Jun 21, 2024

Split


My woodpile

I saw it the moment I stepped into the yard. 
The covered pile of wood in the backyard confirmed this place would be my first home. 
The pile was about 75 by 25 by 8. 
I don’t know how many cords it was, but it was a lot of wood. 

A sixty-forty split of Douglas fir and Western red cedar; 
the firewood came from the trees on my new property. 
The trees fell to make room for the cabin, 
and the good ones were used to build it; 
the remainder put aside to be dealt with later. 

On a perfect day in late July, a few months after I moved into my new home, 
I decided to start chopping the wood. 

Alone amongst the trees, 
I took the first swing with the old axe I’d found 
in the shed behind the cabin. 
The blade lodged - 
the wood didn’t split. 

I tried again, 
but with anger. 
Yes. 
Striking with anger 
felt good. 
And even better
when 
I screamed. 

Wood 
Swing 
Strike
Scream 

Trance-like rhythm. 

Every piece of wood 
a memory. 
Each strike split my heart open – 
again. 
I screamed up to the trees, 
phrases, curses, profanities, 
names. 
The memories were too real. 
I was in it all again. 
But this time, 
took control. 

Some pieces of wood were 
rotten and termite-infested, 
the larvae still moving deep inside. 
Others, when hit with my axe, turned to dust. 
Some smelled so pure
they brought me down from my rage, 
and I could turn away 
- for a moment. 

Some I pulled apart with my hands.

Others were impenetrable— 
knots, 
deep tangled secrets 
that I could only split around. 
Or not at all. 
Trauma

The trees. 

I chopped wood for hours on that perfect day in late July. 
It felt like thirty minutes. 
When I decided I was done, 
I walked away. 
A few hours later, I returned. 
Raw but awake. 

Gently, I picked up each piece of split wood, 
each memory, 
and carried it to the back of the covered wood pile
 – the side hidden by trees. 
Private and protected. 
I wanted them kept safe from harm, 
so I could burn them - 
triumphantly. 

My resolved memories 
fueled the flames 
that kept my cat and me warm; 
they heated food that gave us sustenance. 
And then 
they turned 
to ash. 

That first pile of wood I split on that perfect day in late July was 
the first split into myself. 

A Self, close to half a century old - 
knotted branches, 
lichen and moss, 
cracks, 
and stories. 
But in the centre, beneath the drying bark, the first ring—the beginning, prana.

My small wood stove


The woodpile

The Wind