Our bones are scattered at the grave’s mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth (Psalm 141.7)
When the poplar is burl free,
you can sight through it to the base beneath.
You can trace the axe’s arching edge
before lifting a hand.
Then succeed its divide with a single swing.
When the spruce is well cured and knotted,
your chosen piece a foot across and twice as deep;
when the axe, after a healthy overhand,
is still only buried by half,
then, clean-and-jerk axe-and-block,
and when the inviolate affair
reaches that weightless crest above your head,
let it turn about-face;
and with forceful eye, guide its fall
toward the chop-block,
causing the blunt back of the axe head,
to strike first.
And the spruce length’s weight
tripled upon the skyward wedge,
will part the wooden body.
Even though you know that each temporal arch,
that cleaves the air and crops the day,
slowly rends your dream’s desire—
hews flesh from frame,
hip from socket, tooth from jaw,
til your bones, scattered on the ground,
pass through the earth
and out of mind.