Closing the Sale


This log burns clean and bright,
it doesn’t steam or spit,
the timber, light and dry,
was ready to be split
by lightest touch of axe.

Yes, the axe is sharp,
that’s a labour of love,
with a moistened whetstone,
and a pair of gloves
and stropped with a leather belt.

But the log was seasoned,
opening across the grain,
from a summer in the sun,
and winter ice and rain,
swelled, dried out and cracked.

I sawed that log clear,
from the branch of a sycamore
that I stored for a year,
having cut 12 months before,
in November when it’s dry.

Bitten twice by chainsaw,
with gleaming well oiled growl,
teeth filed to perfection,
take the whole tree down,
and later log it out.

The sharpening of the axe,
the oiling of the saw,
the storing of the timber,
the sun, the freeze, the thaw,
who closed the sale?

Copyright D. Clancy 2014

Summers End

As we wind into the latter half of August the talk turns to school schedules, uniforms, books, study plans and the hopes and dreams of the year to come. It always seems to me that the Celts got it right, starting the new year at the end of the last harvest in Halloween. There is a natural feel of completeness to a year at the end of the summer, that is absent at the winter solstice.

The Academic year just seems more RIGHT as a way of ticking off time. We will shortly close up our summer bolt hole and go back to the ranch. Back to lift and dry the onions, harvest the turgid tomatoes and pick the plumbs. Look for the blackberries to ripen, with the promise of crumbles to come.

Autumn beckons with the promise of misty mornings, log fires and the hope of an indian summer.

The End of Summer; by Rachel Hadas

Sweet smell of phlox drifting across the lawn—
an early warning of the end of summer.
August is fading fast, and by September
the little purple flowers will all be gone.

Season, project, and vacation done.
One more year in everybody’s life.
Add a notch to the old hunting knife
Time keeps testing with a horny thumb.

Over the summer months hung an unspoken
aura of urgency. In late July
galactic pulsings filled the midnight sky
like silent screaming, so that, strangely woken,

we looked at one another in the dark,
then at the milky magical debris
arcing across, dwarfing our meek mortality.
There were two ways to live: get on with work,

redeem the time, ignore the imminence
of cataclysm; or else take it slow,
be as tranquil as the neighbors’ cow
we love to tickle through the barbed wire fence
(she paces through her days in massive innocence,
or, seeing green pastures, we imagine so).

In fact, not being cows, we have no choice.
Summer or winter, country, city, we
are prisoners from the start and automatically,
hemmed in, harangued by the one clamorous voice.

Not light but language shocks us out of sleep
ideas of doom transformed to meteors
we translate back to portents of the wars
looming above the nervous watch we keep