Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Chainsaw Cheer


In the eleventh day of Operation Relocate Domicile. In another 29 days it actually might be over, bar the fruit garden, but we will approach that as a separate manoeuvre. Tomorrow, new home chimneys are to be swept and the Rayburn lit. New Farmer Landlord says we can have wood from his shed, if we don’t mind cutting it down; do we have a chainsaw? Of course we do, it’s one of the few things that has set us aside from medieval peasants. We have been used to cutting down our own wood, in branches or by whole tree; chopping and dragging it by bits up the steep slippery stony thorny thistle strewn fields of Rosehill. Visceral, close to nature: also tiresome, time consuming. Mr can drive down to the shed in New Farmer Landlord’s yard, bring back all the wood on one trip.
My grin is so huge it curves off the earth like buffalo horns.
In honour of the hours spent, in celebration of the hours freed, here are eleven verses from a paused project, a poem of 1,000 ‘miracles,’ which I will be returning to and have been revising recently. The following events take place in late morning on a hot autumn day:

439
Enjoying the press of humidity
We choose a branch that hangs low over
The crunkled roof of the old sheep-shelter
Park up the wheelbarrow

440
We pause to plot, to pick out
The best angle for cleaving branch 
From tree, which spot to stack new logs
Where to stock the slim kindling twigs

441
Mr climbs the boundary of dry wall
Steadies himself with booted feet
Planted firmly down against granite
Stones, against ungainly trunk of tree

442
Chainsaw rattles. The elected angle tested
It is uncomplicated, reachable. Serrated
Blade rotates slickly through the branch
Drops it down onto the old buckled roof

443
Drag the cut wood clear
Admire the twist of it
Solidly muscular against soft
Textured fuzzes of field grass

444
Tangible overhead, a block
Of solid-blue sky. The branch
Is a compact mass, is weight
Pressed against the ground

445
Pushing feet into lumps of earth
Trace the strain from calf to rump 
Levering this length of beech
Out of the grappled twists of thorn

446
From weed-tangle the wood
Is dragged to open field, here
It will be portioned for the fire
Dreckly, Mr says, distracted

447
He eyes a wealth of stray branches
While in situ in the hedge here he will just
Zip the saw through a few more
I can see the sense in it

448
Sawdust sprays on a chainsaw wave
Scatters over leaves and lies on dirt
Whorls of flaxy tree slivers
Released, fly out, pattern down

449
Three more branches fall
Under the notches of sharpened
Blade. Each prize smugly heaved
From the field edge

450
Lines of heavy muscular
Streamlined monsters lie
Prone, like we have been
Hunting great beasts




















[‘Crunkled’ is a made up word, describing crunched corrugated iron. ‘Dreckly’ is a dialect word, meaning, when I’m ready; similar to the Spanish ‘maƱana.’]

6 comments:

  1. Crunkled--lol, needed no definition. I didn't even realize it was made up :-)

    Your poem is so visual--I can see it, I can smell the different types of wood. It is the anti-Joyce Kilmer of poems ;-)

    My hubby cuts wood too (with a chainsaw) and we use it to heat the basement. It does take so much time.

    I will have to share your thoughts about having a chainsaw--separating us from medievel peasants.

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  2. Excellent post and beautiful poetry. We too heat with wood and have for 30 years exploited that renewable resource. Chainsaw, sledge and wedge have accompanied me into my 60s. Help!

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  3. My eyebrows raised with delight at crunkled before you mentioned the 'etymology' at the bottom.

    I love it!

    Lil, you have -- forgive me for articulating it like this, I certainly don't mean to speak in stereotypes or similar -- a masculinity about your way with language. It is deeply visceral, unsqueamish and bold. Not that we women cannot be these things but it's so prominent in the way in which you express yourself that it has stood out for me.

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  4. I keep on declaring myself enchanted by your storytelling. The poem is written by you as well>? I hope not...it would be too much.

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  5. Loving all your comments and wishing I had a bit more time to respond! Hopefully next week will be upping the modernity with actual in-house internet access!! Chainsaw, sledge and wedge is still a favoured way to live- could do with flatter, kinder terrain though- so glad we didn't have to take a modern house, can keep some of our funny old ways :-) I think I have always had a kind of masculinity; I would have been the cave woman who slung the baby on her back and punched the invading bear in the face; and I do tend to favour the old boy poets- Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney in particular.

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  6. Punching a bear in the face -- yes! That is you! I love it.

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