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Dead-standing, twigless skeleton among the green
and leather-leafed Live Oaks begs a chain saw,

hard heart promising to draw sparks, each heavy
section easy-split to catch a flame. Grandfather

Blue Oak, a century of energy released
in mesmerizing blue tongues upon white coals –

each tight ring, each dream and memory set free
from time. And when they cut and cord us up

we trust that by our word we shall be remembered
around the pyre – lasting moments idly shared.

                                            - for our fathers


We've been using Mom's fireplace to take the edge off of the cold here in Halleck. Your Ironwood poem will forever give those fires new meaning. Thanks.

I’m so glad, Meg. I trust the rest of the story will add more for you.

During my annual desk clean-up I found a poem from Paul dated 12-17-07 entitled “How I Tell My Dad I Love Him,” that begins with “Knocking down the standing dead…”, their action-packed wood-cutting ritual full of blue collar heart, perhaps their last outdoor outing before his father died last October. Having found Paul's poem on my own father’s birthday, who passed away on my birthday in 1997, I was moved to write something. We prize the dead-standing Blue Oaks for heat and easy-splitting here, especially those with a dark core known regionally as “black heart” or “ironwood”. I found Leonard Zarzyski’s obituary @ ironwoodglobe.com. An earlier version of this poem was emailed to Paul.

Though coincidence and poetry might seem antithetical, I think it is that friction that lets it sing. Woodfires here now, I lose myself staring into the coals, something so primordial for me that it transcends time.

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