Kindling
The day his girlfriend's father let him cut
The kindling was the cracking of a crust,
A heavy volume falling open at
A pleasant page. He felt the guard relax
  At last: it takes some trust
  To hand a man an ax.

They foraged for straight grain, which wouldn't knot
The blade, but give hospitably, a quick
Clean breach, if he could hit the angle right.
The older man first watched, and then went in.
  Alone, he chopped each stick
  To almost pencil-thin,

Absorbed in seeking out that magic split,
Delicious every time that it occurred,
A touch of luck rewarding skill and sweat,
Though earned, still only half-anticipated,
  Like just the sought-for word,
  Or love reciprocated.

first published in The Formalist