Only half the deadwood’s down.
A man’s maul releases
the sour smell of poplar,
severs the gnarled scars of oak,
bites through yellow beech.

The sun lies low.
There is a dangerous dusk
in which old shadows walk the perimeter.
Twenty-eight nights fall
between one full moon and the next.

The delicate skulls of birds
hide in dead leaves.
The wood is as willing as a child.
It’s not the lost leg, not the dreams
that strip the man out. It’s the children.
Their open eyes. The waste.

 


This poem originally appeared in Hunger Mountain 19: The Body Issue.