Mesquite tree


Mesquite restrains my falling axe tight within its wet jaw
And wedged there it waits, gripped in stubbornness.
I catch my breath; the axe waits more ‘neath fingers traced
Along the hickory helm smoothed by yet another coarse and sweat-filled hand

A second swift, falling cut bites deep within the mesquite
Chips, nay chunks now, fly freely to my leather boots
My unknowing soles tread them into the wet soil from whence they grew
And so I lift my axe again above my head and strike one, two three.

The saw delivers tooth by tooth its razored cut to slice
The bark; sap bleeds with each stroke and sawdust spills
White powder on the black dirt and still I sweat like the beasts
That stand and stare at my rough day’s work.

The mesquite now severed from its root leaves space open
And I consider the loss my axe wrought again
Red juices rise, pulsing from the root as if to feed the lost tree
My hands are lifting to my shoulder from my bended knee.

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