I’ve finally escaped the congestion—

372 miles north from 

my tame birthplace

 

resin dusts the air—

as ax blade splits the pine,

wooden handle splits my skin,

fresh blood coating dried sap on my palm

 

from a distance, Swallow chides this

man hunched over a woodpile

in the clearing;

the mountain a little less green

for his modern chateau

 

roofer says Moose don’t come down much no more

(hot summers extend to fall;

short winters give deadly ticks life)

says first Catamount ceased

descending Smuggler’s Notch,

then Lynx stopped slinking the night—

understanding that builders wanted land

even more than trappers fur

 

I wish we could go back

—no wedding rings, just a shared heavy quilt

—no China cabinet, but a cast-iron pot over the fire

—no shelves of books, but tracks in the snow

—not speaking of our story, but living it

your hair braided with thick wisdom;

my beard full with coarse experience…

and sure, Wolf might eat our first born

(but we all make sacrifices)

and we had skinned his brother for winter wear

and all’s fair in love and survival

and this sunrise is blessing not expectation

and nobody points fingers at us for breathing

 

plumber finishes radiant heat bathroom tiles…

electrician will connect the cable tomorrow…

foreman sees my bloodied hands and offers his gas splitter…

I pick up the ax and get back to work,

pretending not to hear him

 

(lumberjacks rip into the afternoon quiet,

clearing the next lot

for my neighbor-to-be)