TG (March 18,1963 / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Raising The Ax

It is the sound of the log splitting
and its echo
which marks my passage
into manhood. My father stands
by the porch as the ax swings up
and falls.
He studies the way I go
with the grain and let the ax do the work.
He studies the rolling of my shoulders
with each whack into the dense
wood. He remembers his own
father teaching him to swing a pick
in the dark tunnels
of the Pennsylvania coal mines.
With a carbide lamp
splitting the darkness,
he brought to the surface
buckets of coal. As he straitened
the stiffness out of his back and legs,
he’d squint into the harshness of light -
fearing the darkness behind him.
Now, after four, five, six logs
and after ten, eleven, twelve logs
split and stacked, he squints into the sun
breaking through the clouds
and sees the spots
of early manhood rising.

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Comments (3)

Tim: You brought back a fond memory for me with your poem. My Dad showed me the technique, and I still remember the elm wood fighting and gripping our wedges in it's twisty fibers, making him glad it was no longer a one person job. Thanks. Chuck
A fine, effective poem. Thanks.
I can hear the echo. This poem is not only visual but auditory...and also from the heart. Nice job. Raynette