By: Courtney T. Beck
“Do not be afraid,” she says to me
on the heels of a kind of grief
some fires, this fire
blazes a trail to something new.
Would you follow these embers that
light up the dark?
Could you consider leaving
the safety of this house?
Here we go, yes, come with me
into the cool dark woods, here,
at the edge of familiar fields
Collect the kindling, stick to stick
find the heart of the wood past this
moss, these twigs, and those branches.
They lie vein-like, don’t you think?
Forgotten arteries, it seems
that danced in seasons past
to the rhythm of the oak.
Chop your own wood and
it will warm you twice, they say.
I say, chop the wood you find at the heart of the forest
and it will show you who you are.
Find the oak that lived long before you knew
of death and life and joy
and get to work
Put on your gloves and remove your jacket
Do what it takes with your ax and your grit
and become the oak that will warm you
And as chips and limbs fall in piles
to the damp earth at your feet
find your heart, bruised and vital
absorbed by a chopped oak house
whose walls and roof and floor and beams
will warm us;
our living, breathing bodies
until this fiery winter
gives way to the spring.