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