Parable of the Waning Light
Leveled, the dead maple was so heavy
I had to buck it in place. The chainsaw
threw a steady spray of sawdust, the color
of skinned apple, against my trousers.
I cut some forty logs, each a foot long or so,
and before the saw choked for fuel,
had rattled a host of unnamed creatures
from refuge—ants, a blue beetle, a slug.
All afternoon the sun sank deeper
and deeper into the slumber
of the late summer leaves. Nothing
of breeze or twilight perturbed
the darkening green eye of the pond.
I carried logs four or five at a time
to the woodpile. Each surrendered
a slow, plaintive agony in my arms,
like the dirge of a stillborn infant.
I sorted the wood and stacked it
into a book of hours, and I had not,
I confess, thought of you, or of love,
the entire day until this very moment,
when I imagined the winter dark
and each log singing one last time
with its whole body in a blaze of light.
–Douglas L. Talley