by Gary Snyder

The sour smell,

blue stain,


water squirts out round the wedge,

Lifting quarters of rounds


covered with ants


a living glove of ants upon my hand”


the poll of the sledge a bit peened over


so the wedge springs off and tumbles


ringing like high-pitched bells


into the complex duff of twigs


poison oak, bark, sawdust,


shards of logs,

And the sweat drips down.


Smell of crushed ants.


The lean and heave on the peavey


that breaks free the last of a bucked


three-foot round,


it lies flat on smashed oaklings–

Wedge and sledge, peavey and maul,

little axe, canteen, piggyback can


of saw-mix gas and oil for the chain,


knapsack of files and goggles and rags,

All to gather the dead and the down.

the young men throw splits on the piles


bodies hardening, learning the pace


and the smell of tools from this delve


in the winter


death-topple of elderly oak.


Four cords.

 

 

From the Gary Snyder Reader Vol. II, Counterpoint Press

 

 

 

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