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James A. Emanuel - False Notions, Fears, And Other Things Of Wood

Repeatedly, that sturdy stump in me
bears up like stone,
beneath some ritual I see:
the blinding axe
swings up,     holds,
that moment of its weightlessness
inscrutable
till I confirm the arm is mine;
I will it, grip,
feel moist the swelling handle,
the shudder rude,
the difference fallen.

Toward that chopping block
I carry in me woodthings—
infectious undergrowth
pretending upwards
through each stem and branch of me—
all so certain of themselves
they practice, like pains,
the craft of being.

They try to wrench away
before we reach that stump,
my woodthings and I,
they      weakening
in its brightness,
in my luminous saying
"I must go, must go
to the chopping block."

They know the brutal business
of my thinking;
I know they have no charity nor memory
to return the way they came—
came not from wilderness,
nor forest,
nor living trees.

Their craft and strength I test—
           and mine—
at the chopping block.


 

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False Notions, Fears, And Other Things Of Wood - Comments and Information

Poet: James A. Emanuel
Poem: False Notions, Fears, And Other Things Of Wood
Volume: Whole Grain: Collected Poems, 1958-1989
Year: Published/Written in 1991
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