Look at the Time

Terence Young
Featured image: Sharp to Touch © Emerson Hultman 2019

 

Hydro’s high-rigger checks his gear once, twice,
before topping our right-of-way’s lifeless grand fir,

chainsaw swinging from his hip, orange helmet
dripping rain. Ten-foot lengths fall, plant them-

selves deep in forest bracken, each bucked section
landing heavier than the last until what’s left poses

no danger to power lines. When he leaves, I count
rings, watch years come and go by quarter inches,

stop when I reach my age. Every winter of my life,
each spring, contour lines on a map – childhood,

adolescence, marriage – all here, charted and con-
tained in this dismembered trunk, which I will burn

piece by piece, releasing energy stored before I could
even speak. If only I could burrow between these layers,

drill into a single year, breathe that air again, see every-
one as they once were, walk down streets as though

they were new, recover all of that, gather it up, hold it
more firmly than I held it then, when days were for

squandering, and nights passed in a blink. This balsam
grew until it could grow no longer, needles turning

brown, sap retreating, roots relinquishing their grasp,
alive only with bugs eating their way through Augusts

and Aprils, from drought to deluge, obliterating days
and weeks, whole decades with their hunger. Summer

heat will dry what I scavenge, wedges I will split and
split again, feeding them when October comes into

an iron maw that will transform history’s sunshine
to flame and smoke, release it into a dateless wind.