This morning I have a fascination with wood. It stems from the quietly efficient wood stove in the corner of our middle room. When the weather gets really cold, it’s a demanding part of our lives, and our schedules hinge on keeping it filled (which sounds worse than it is, really) so that the house stays cozy and warm. At this time of the year, though, it’s a silent companion to my never-quite-warm extremities. This year, I’ve noticed my three-year-old standing in front of it, toasting herself, the way I always do.
What keeps the wood stove running is wood, plain and simple. Wood fills my husband’s thoughts beginning in late summer, as he calculates how much we need, when he should be cutting and splitting and seeking it out, and how long he needs to spend getting more wood ready. (Though he sometimes has stress about this, I’m not fooled: these calculations are a pleasant thing for him. I suspect he tries to find ways to make them into complex algebraic formulas, but I have no proof of that.)
So this morning, doing a search for “wood” over at the Poetry Foundation, I found just the poem for my Friday fascination with wood.
for Maxine Kumin
A cylinder of maple
set in place, feet spread apart—
and the heavy maul, fat as a hammer
but honed like an axe, draws
a semicircle overhead and strikes
through the two new halves
to leave the steel head sunk
a half-inch in the block and the ash
handle rigid in the air.
A smack of the palm, gripping as it hits
the butt end, and the blade
rolls out of the cut. The half-logs
are still rocking on the flagstones.
And that’s just the first stanza. The rest is here. While you’re at it, be sure to stop by Yat-Yee Chong‘s for this week’s Poetry Friday round-up.