Gathering Firewood

The crackle of green pine flames
with hearts rising toward the exit flue,
too wet behind the ears for substantial fire.

From the stack beneath the tarp
last year’s seasoned cord*,
the savored hard woods
gleaned from past storms’ fellings.

Oak, Walnut, Cherry: no easy task
the wielding of the axe; its sharp blade
a survivor of many handles.

A raging blaze will burn
with such intensity
it consumes itself, and after such a frenzy
naught is left but ash.

It is then one must rely on stauncher fuel
gathered in quiet times;
a labor that sustains the certainty

this gentle flame will keep us warm
when winter is upon us.

*A cord is the amount of wood that, when “ranked and well stowed” (arranged so pieces are aligned, parallel, touching and compact), occupies a volume of 128 cubic feet (3.62 m). It got it’s name because a string or cord was used to measure it.


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