Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry

The Maine State Library has partnered with with the State's Poet Laureate, Wesley McNair, and the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance in the initiative, Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry.

Each week McNair offers one previously published poem by a Maine poet. McNair selects each poem and writes a brief introduction about the poet's background and connection to Maine, and the history, context, or themes of the poem.

Poem for the week of January 26, 2014

Splitting Wood in Winter

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

In today’s poem, Douglas Woodsum of Smithfield offers advice to Mainers about how to split stove wood.

Splitting Wood In Winter by Douglas Woodsum

You’ll need a barn with a big door, the old-
fashioned kind that hangs on wheels, slides open
down a track. You’ll need a bare bulb, the sun
having sunk before your return from work.
You’ll need a splitting maul (the ax always
gets stuck), a medieval weapon perfect
for pillaging heat from the heart of hardwood.
You can plug in the portable radio
or just listen to the hush of the swing,
then thwack…or thoonk, the soft clinks or cloonks
of the splits falling from the chopping block
onto the old, thick, scarred floorboards of the barn.
You’ll need your hands to rip apart pieces
still connected by strips of unsplit wood.
You’ll need to load the canvas carrier
thrice, enough to survive the dead of night.
You won’t need reminding, “Splitting wood warms
you twice: once chopping it, once burning it.”
You’ll smile walking through the cold, back to the house,
your hot breath a harbinger of wood smoke.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2010 Douglas Woodsum. Reprinted from The Lawns of Lobsterman, Moon Pie Press, by permission of Douglas Woodsum. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Special Consultant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at mainepoetlaureate@gmail.com or 207-228-8263. Take Heart: Poems from Maine, an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.

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