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Chopping Wood With My Father
by  Carole Bugge

With the March skies wrapped around us,
we set out, chainsaw in hand, to forage for firewood
as two crows feud in the branches of a balsam fir,
exchanging harsh insults across the meadow
hoarsely cawing rude remarks,
hurtling epithets at one another
in crow language
under the dull grey skies,
as the struggling sun, pale and weak behind a cloud cover
falls on dead leaves scattered by the wind

You let me carry the axe
I hold it proudly, carefully,
with the sharpened steel blade away from my body
just like you taught me
my lungs filled with the spicy scent of pines
in this ambiguous month of March
perched between death and rebirth, straddling two worlds,
one foot in the grave and the other in the coming spring
You march on ahead with purpose,
no hesitation in your stride
and I feed off your confidence
like a fledgling sparrow taking worms straight from its parent's mouth
The mowed wheat field crunches beneath our boots,
the stalks short and stubby as leg hairs
Soon the smell of gasoline will fill the air,
as you crank up the chainsaw to begin the assault
on the fallen tree trunks that lined the woods
A final blow with the axe will sever them
and there they will lie until we come for them later,
in the big blue Pontiac with the enormous trunk
But for now, the moment just before,
anticipation gathers in the tree branches like a held breath
poised, waiting - hovering with the crows
and everything is still just a possibility



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