Posted by on Jun 22, 2012 in Reflections | 2 comments

I managed to fire off these shots while at the pool with my kids right before my camera went to the repair shop. I loved that this challenge helped me see the overlooked rugged beauty of wood.  Thanks, Amber, for opening my eyes a little wider.

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By Reginald Gibbons b. 1947 Reginald Gibbons


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.


So much less than what we have been

persuaded to dream, this necessity for wood

might have sufficed, but it is what

we have been taught to disown and forget.

Yet just such hardship is what saves.

For if the stacked cords

speak of felled trees, of countless

five-foot logs flipped end over end downhill

till the blood is wrung from your back

and snowbound warmth must seem

so far off you would rather freeze,


yet each thin tongue torn from the grain

when log-halves were sundered at one stroke

will sing in the stove.

To remind you of hands. Of how

mere touch is song in the silence

where hands live—the song of muddy bark,

the song of sawdust like cornmeal and down,

and the song of one hand over another,

two of us holding the last length of the log

in the sawbuck as inches away the chainsaw

keeps ripping through hickory.