Stick-Carrying

Stick-Carrying
March 2015

Broken sticks and twigs I carried
with sharply angled arms, soft-side up
to keep from getting tired and wincing
from the branch pinches and skin scratches felt without a thought
and not seen – they were buried underneath the pile

My pace quickened with my heartbeat,
quickened with weariness turned anxiousness to be rid of the sticks
my arm angle opened, acute to obtuse, releasing the load nearly prematurely
They clicked out together to the ground
joined their harvest peers
Not by any force of mutual attraction or recognition of likeness
just gravity
that pulled each to its own rest place
some atop, some rolled, length-long, to tilt toward the rocks
or bushes
or to the almost sky
I left my pile, about-faced, for another armload.
A  slight sting stung in the places streaked pink from concentrated pressure points
but no mind was paid
All in a day’s labor
and plenty of real-estate more for more that will, too, fade,
in time
After some steps looking to where I walked but not seeing the bleached bright trunks
or high branches that hung above
My train of purpose was interrupted
by a hand on my shoulder passing from across the way
with an axe in his, resting, cradled there
stained and chipped with the felling of trees and things

He slow-swung around, as if his hand anchored to my scapula
knelt down in a soft, fluid motion
dreamlike, surreal the way his weight did not yank back.  I was not jarred to stop
or disturbed
just paused and gentle-brought into his warmth that met me

And by that warmth I knew I was a wake

And he did kneel by me
and it was cold on the side where he wasn’t
I didn’t know it until then
so busy and working I was
and so long sunlight dimming
having acclimated, the way children do when too occupied with catch, tag, and war to go inside
never noticing it’s so cold as to cause that thawing itch and pain that arraigns feet and fingers
upon exchanging starlight for nightlight

He was at eye level now
and I listened while he spoke, engaged with the ground
low and smooth and easily, said to me
“Sit down and rest awhile.”
He stood, hand anchored light, guided me to a piece of wood fit for sitting
I said,
“I can still carry.  I’m not tired.”
“It’s alright,” he said, “sit down and rest awhile.”
So I obliged and let me be lifted a small inch or two
Once placed, I stayed with feet swaying in unison.