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