Poem of the Week, by Cecilia Woloch
My father, who died last month, was a giant of a man from boyhood on. He was famous for keeping the house-heating wood stove in our kitchen cranked to stupefying levels of heat. Much of our childhood was spent in service to that wood stove: cutting, chopping, hauling and stacking wood to keep it fed.
Many of my abiding memories of my father are centered around wood, which, even in his eighties, he continued to chop and haul. As a child, his giant presence could be overwhelming, but I picture him now, and think of how easy it can be to overlook, in a giant man, the tenderness and gentleness that also lived inside him.
The Pick, by Cecilia Woloch
I watched him swinging the pick in the sun,
breaking the concrete steps into chunks of rock,
and the rocks into dust,
and the dust into earth again.
I must have sat for a very long time on the split rail fence,
just watching him.
My father’s body glistened with sweat,
his arms flew like dark wings over his head.
He was turning the backyard into terraces,
breaking the hill into two flat plains.
I took for granted the power of him,
though it frightened me, too.
I watched as he swung the pick into the air
and brought it down hard
and changed the shape of the world,
and changed the shape of the world again.
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