Firewood

firewood

The glinting arch of sun on steel that split

the air absorbed the life of muslces warmed

with vernal heat and drove the axe head hard

against the wood. Good blocks of oak he split,

and sweetly scented pieces lay asprawl,

prepared to yield their heat, their meat, to him.

The hands that held the axe were supple still,

though course to touch. Their strokes were sure and quick,

and driven by the joyful ache of earnest love.

….

She said, “It’s time for me to go.”

……

………………………………………He stopped.

“What’s that? I thought you had some things to do.

You know: Some things to do up at the house.”

…..

“All done.” She moved her eyes away from his

and whispered, “I’m all packed.” She saw the axe

he held and laughed. “What’s wrong with you? You know

how fast the chainsaw is–” He dropped the axe.

She watched it fall, and in the worn-out grip

she glimpsed the man as she had not before.

She paused, then set herself and said again,

“It’s time for me to go.”

……….

……………………………“The corn’s about

to come.” He knelt as if collecting wood

and tried to steady failing legs. He bowed

his head to hide his face and gasped against

a searing pain that started low and spread.

“This could be our best crop.”

……….

………………………………….“I have to go.”

……….

The hollow slap of sleet on pitted steel

that lay where it had fallen rose unheard

and died above the nearby fallow fields.

……….

The untouched handle, cracked and splintered, sunk

a little deeper in the mud. The blocks

of wood, unstacked, unburned, and brown and soft,

now fouled the cutting winds with fetid mold.

The muscles warmed with vernal heat grew still

and cold in the grieving ache of earnest love.