Was there a pause,
A thought, of what was falling? One
Thousand acres, or merely the edge
Of the old forest – like the edge of a single leaf
Gnawed by a caterpillar – vanished axe
Crack by crack. The vast stumps and a million
Limbs too small for firewood shot
Sparks up from the burning brush.
The contour of the hill was exposed,
And a rush of rough weeds and briars
Grew hyper-green in the novel open.
Then it was utterly gone.
The cutting had come in from every side.
And so there was no symphony of
Night creaking inside the inside
Of the tree web. The shorn off top
Of what had been hidden,
Full of flying squirrels and owls, made no
Secret warren of
tunnels and branch paths. The layers
of green yellow sun shade, the porous
barrier to light, gave way to a scouring wind
and the stones lay naked under the stars.
Slowly the ancient roots
Too, gave up their shapes
Beneath the earth.
And then the old woodcutter lay
On his bed, listening to the creaking
Wagon wheels and the harness
Of the mules that hauled it all away -
To be houses, ships, firewood, books…
Everything became everything else,
Fires were in everything and everything was a flame.
The little ganglia of sparks stopped hooking
Their branches together in the mental wind
And he forgot what he’d started to say,
What he’d always meant to say, but could
Not now, to save himself, remember the
Beginning of, save the sound of the axe.