Ax sounds along the timberline, charred stumps from a dry summer, the liver spots on aging skin.
If only it could all be done over! As it is, birth leads only to death with precious little ecstatic
deaths on the way, one by shimmering one, arms and legs and lips and a rocking like we’re at sea
in a little boat salmon leap into and stay until we toss them gently back as a gesture of gratitude.
If this were an ocean it would not be a bed, and if it were not a bed the earth would be our pillow.
I love this time of day, the owl speaking its signature from the hollow cottonwood by the house.
Once we were invisible in the great wheel of galaxies turning endlessly until we reached a place
that was our next home and you came along like a seed blown in by the same wind blew me in.
What do you do with land whose trees must be clear cut to make a living and drive owls away.
What can be done with the land after the living is made, the bank note paid, the hunting spare
this year and others as well, with the sound of choppers in the summer belching their solvent
over the flames and men digging as fast as they can the firebreak hoping the flames don’t leap
but we know they will and return to the house, wash off the pitch, and sit down to eat, the stench
of smoke and ash riddling the air. No need to remember, there’s no time, the future is to prepare
for a war we never knew would lead us to fight against nature under the flag of capital and greed,
symbolic horses working the mines, the factories, machines tended by slaves for the fat-cat toms.
The old truck starts. The rain starts. The day is a sheet of misery on the skin and under our feet.
Wind blows it against our faces, hard to grip an ax with wet hands, the cross-cut bows out under
callused fingers sawing back and forth until the wet wood feels too green to go on. We go home,
we eat venison from last year’s harvest, our wives set the table and sweep the floor and care for
children we thrust upon them in the name of plentiful God whose bidding we follow and multiply
accordingly. You don’t know the trouble I’ve seen, the radio bleats over the static, nobody knows . . . Before I sleep nights I go back in memory to the little boat she shared with me, how
she loved to feel the waves under her and stay dry, how I wanted nothing but her happiness, ours.
19 October 2010)