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Splinter

splinter

A splinter tends to surface deep from flesh
Like any black worry aching the blood,
A fevered heart in dead February. Mud
And wood are piled as winter winds engage
In mortal combat with fields of white, clash
In dull retort with beds of wilted sage.

As hands are steeled to helve each ringing log,
A splinter tends to surface deep from flesh,
Like ironwood and oak. What April wish
Can lick its roots with rain and shape the woods
To fly once more? Each leaf, a violent flag,
Slivers sunlight into a thousand gods.

Yard by acre, the grub denies the plow
Its seam in spring, but quick as silverfish
A splinter tends to surface deep from flesh.
Each swollen sty keeps it from summer’s eye:
Did not the soot-grey sage die to know
The shed secrets that hurt seasons deploy?

Now in woodsheds, those secrets are kept locked
As hostages of summer drying out.
Agonies of decay never forget
A splinter tends to surface deep from flesh
To vanquish the epoch and moment clocked
In concentric rings counting down to ash.

So summer falls and winter’s meat is fresh
For death—but first, autumn’s echo so sounds
Its drums from trunk and branch, and sun redounds
To arctic shadows drawn from night just as
A splinter tends to surface deep from flesh.
The whetstone sings its dirge in orchard grass.

Plucked as a loom, the bruised lilacs withdraw,
Unraveling a spool of leaves and blooms
Now bruised and left for beetles, mushrooms—
As forest floor enfolds the underbrush
And sawdust spits at the toothy bucksaw,
So splinters tend to surface deep from flesh.

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