I would rather put a chainsaw to my legs

I would rather put a chainsaw to my legs

Tips of branches turn yellow;
needles float down as from heaven.
My heaven is a redwood forest.

I clear duff from the roof with a leaf blower,
from the deck with a snow shovel,
mounds upon mounds rumpling earth
like rough blankets and then always comes rain,
a season of rot.

Seems yesterday, mornings from the wood pile
accompanied by a toddling daughter
I’d cradle logs in my arms shaking off duff
and carry to the kitchen for wood stove, warm fire.

I installed a furnace, forced air.
Thirty years pass and I’m digging,
rolling load by load in a wheelbarrow
removing a prickly hill of decay
interlaced with roots of relentless ivy.
Duff mining is hard work: the rake, the shovel
restoring my little half acre so monsters
can outlast me a millennium.

Now — here — two feet down,
a plastic tarp over shards of firewood
like stacked bundles of fungus.
I put them there, a younger man.
Beneath it all a long lost baby spoon
shaped like a rusty kangaroo.
My daughter would stash gifts
for little critters, mice. Now men.
Received. My heart in heaven.

Joe Cottonwood

Joe Cottonwood is happy to be called an old hippie. His new book of poetry is Random Saints — poems of kindness for an unkind age. He’s a semi-retired home repair contractor and a lifelong writer sheltering with his high school sweetheart among redwood trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.

[image: mouse in a log pile | Simon Dell]

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