Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Split verdict

photo of pond, early Spring
© harrington
Welcome. Thanks for stopping. We're not quite there yet, but I expect the neighborhood to look a lot like this by the coming weekend. I noticed that the north sides of the pools are starting to darken, showing the beginnings of ice melt. The road in from of the homestead is basically snow free. I wish I could say the same about the potholes.
Thomas R. Smith is, according to his web site, a poet, teacher, writer and editor. I can vouch for much of that, since I've taken a couple of his classes at The Loft, I have at least one of his books of poetry and another book which he helped edit. Based on reading some of what's on his blog, I can also vouch that he's a writer. Keeping in mind Synder's poetic points, take a look at this poem by Smith from his Horse of Earth volume:
SPLITTING WOOD

Beginning, a stroke may swing far
from true, axe handle ring offended
on the log, the blade cleave dirt.
A near-miss may shear off kindling strips,
of use but not what we wanted.
Measured by eye, then commended to muscle,
nerve and old inner knowledge of sundering,
a direct hit down the middle halves so decisively
we wonder if this was the way
a Platonic creator struck from us our soul's
own missing part for whom we secretly long
during the afternoons of wood-splitting,
the nights of wood-burning. We feel
in palms and chest the driving line
of the blade's edge making contact,
and the lightning shock along the grain's
utter distance. A single gesture prepared
in the lift of arches uncoils in knees
and the hollow of the back, arcs from
wrist-bone to shaft-wood, and shudders earthward
between the one now two falling each
from itself, its faces white
with disjoining, each having become a face
only now, separated from another.
Have you ever split wood? Based on the few times I have, this poem seems to me to ring true. (For an alternative perspective in prose, see Aldo Leopold's The Good Oak.) I think Splitting Wood meets most, and possibly all, of Snyder's points. Thomas is teaching a course on summer nature poetry at The Loft in a few months. You might want to consider it for pleasure or purpose (there's no profit in poetry). Thanks for listening. Come again soon. Rants, raves and reflections served here daily at My Minnesota.