Monday, January 24, 2011

A Fire in Autumn

As breath turned to steam in early morning air
Leaves began to dress in shades of yellow, red and orange
Fog rose from the warm earth round distant purple hills
And squirrels practiced acrobatics from oak and hickory

The child’s mind was full of wonder and the romance of beauty
He counted the zigzag stairs in the writing spider’s lair
He marveled at the graceful form of its delicate occupant
Such fine long legs extended from a yellow and black tuxedo

The old man had come to cut wood and he built a small fire
He sat near it now sharpening his instruments; the axe and the saw
His only remarks to the boy were on the swift change in climate
“It’ll be getting colder soon; another month or two, there’ll be snow”

The boy imagined soft powdery flakes drifting big as pennies
He thought of the cardinal perched among the crush of velvet white
Like a splotch of blood on the breast of a spotless dove; he saw it clear
The old man passed the child a sharpened hatchet to trim the limbs

The smaller twigs and branches went into the fire
The boy felt the grand weight of this tool of destruction
He was every pioneer and savage Indian; Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone
He had read about them in books; the old man only read his Bible

It was the same morning for these two; it was toil and adventure
It was the excitement of being trusted with something new
It was the burden of labor that had grown old and mundane with time
It was the warmth and beauty of nature and it was the coming cold

The boy pondered on the meanings of work and play
He had seen athletes exert tremendous energy in sport for enjoyment
He had seen broken men peel blisters from calloused hands
The latter seemed prisoners of circumstance forced of need

But if it were not mere exertion which determined the essence of an act
Then it must be that the meaning had value in itself separate from the labor
His young mind struggled to understand and comprehend the difference
Sport, he determined, served no purpose other than enjoyment

So why did men dread their labor so; which produced an evident benefit?
Why did they not whoop and holler their enjoyment in expectation?
He glanced through the shifting kaleidoscope of colors as he hacked
He gathered the smaller branches into sheaves and tossed them on the fire


LeRoy Dean said...

Well written!

Anonymous said...

Tremendous image! Such vibrant colours. :)