Thursday, October 2, 2008

Splitting Wood

My buddy Kirk, from Seattle, wrote an essay regarding his experienece splitting wood. It triggered my own memories of the loathe/love dichotomy of swinging an axe. Check out Kirk's story
- here -

and the following poem by Billy Collins...beautiful.

Splitting Wood

Frost covered this decades ago,
and frost will cover it again tonight,
the leafy disarray of this woodland

now thinned down to half its trees,
but this morning I stand here
sweating in a thin shirt

as I split a stack of ash logs
into firewood
with two wedges, an ax, and a blue-headed maul.

The pleasures here are well known:
the feet planted wide,
the silent unstoppable flow of the downswing,

the coordination that is called hand-eye,
because the hand achieves
whatever the concupiscent eye desires

when it longs for a certain spot,
which, in this case, is the slightest fissure
visible at one end of the log

where the thin, insinuating edge
of the blade can gain entry,
where the shape of its will can be done.

I want to say there is nothing
like the sudden opening of wood,
but it is like so many other things—

the stroke of the ax like lightning,
the bisection so perfect
the halves fall away from each other

as in a mirror
and hit the soft ground
like twins shot through the heart.

And rarely, if the wood
accepts the blade without conditions,
the two pieces keep their balance

in spite of the blow,
remain stunned on the block
as if they cannot believe their division,

their sudden separateness.
Still upright, still together,
they wobble slightly

as two lovers, once secretly bound,
might stand revealed,
more naked than ever,

the darkness inside the tree they shared
now instantly exposed to the blunt
light of this clear November day,

all the inner twisting of the grain
that held them blindly
in their augmentation and contortion

now rushed into this brightness
as if by a shutter
that, once opened, can never be closed.

—Billy Collins


kirk said...

Collins captured the moment exactly. Such a simple task as splitting wood -- but how fulfilling! Where there used to be a pile of huge rounds, now there is a stack of split wood ready for another purpose.

jimmy jam said...

woodworking plans
Collins taken the moment exactly. This type of simple job as busting timber -- yet how satisfying! High used to be the pile associated with huge rounds, now there is really a stack associated with split timber looking forward to another objective.