Stephen Scott Whitaker channels Henry David Thoreau in this meditation on the natural world.
Cutting Firewood in the Cup
Walden-like, the sloping land into a cup where the maple fell
once in a nor’easter; the bell of the sun a jar over the earth.
Ah, to pull wood from the curly aura of leaves and brush
Uncovering tree bones to rest upon the stones of the stove
and heat the old house; that old custom. The truth of cutting wood:
the body fails. I am the fold, and I am the dark earth, not apart from it
sweeping back the flesh from what lays soft, the worth
blackened in the seasons thickened at the waist.
The highway murmur brooks the air. The worst is my own dark harrow,
but air is breath to me and all of the lives that carry on,
the chain of air and water and flesh. Ah, to be useful at last.
My soul sheds in the animal way, turning over and over,
lighter, brighter, a beam of transparent sun above the wet dark wood.
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