Daybreak Poem by Bob Bowers


There was a heavy darkness
To his step,
As if pain had risen from the earth,
Encircled him,
dragged him down.

The harshness of the
not risen,
Throbbed through his hands.
Tightened ‘round his joints,
Stretched long upon his arms.

He bent down,
took ‘hold his boots,
Worn and scuffed,
Pulled them on,
laced them,
Rose slowly.

Daybreak would find her
Stoking the fire
he left behind,
Preparing for the day,
Awaiting his return.

It took so long,
these days,
Opening the door,
Gathering his saw,
the axe,
the maul and wedge,
Their weight a yoke upon
his once-broad shoulders.

He started toward the woods,
As quiet as their words
These days,
As tired as the duet
they never sang.

He did not speak to her of his pain.
Nor of hopes and dreams.
Nor of things
that brought him down,
There, among the trees.

Each breath came hard today,
Crushing his ribs,
Cutting through his chest
Where life had almost left him

He walked across the field.
His stride slow,
Pulled along by the chill blanketing his world.

The days were shorter now,
Winter longer,
The time it took,

He had been an artist,
Cutting the notch just so,
his saw slicing down opposite,
The weight of the branches
Carrying each tree down, and away, exactly.

Until yesterday,
The day he cut that hard rock maple,
Felling it,
Falling straight and true.

His pride looked up,
At scarlet leaves
That carved the sky
In downward arc.

Bright clouds
Against dark blue sky
Caught his eye,
As it groundward fell.

Until it paused,
In mid-flight,
And his mind clicked
With something he almost knew.

That strong-formed base,
That trunk of massive weight,
Stopped in its path
By a sapling growing near.

Or perhaps he thought it
Left there by him,
As now slow-motion eyes sought it out.

His flash of recognition.
Too late
He knew the danger,
The fulcrum on which life now spun.

Rock maple trunk
Swinging up,
Blur of leaves
Starting down.

His chest suddenly collapsing
With the smash of the life he took
Against his own,
His saw flying
from him.

His breath sucked from him.
Time stopped.
The absolute absence of life
Engulfed him.

He would not speak to her of this.
She would worry
too much.
Knew that life would kill him.
Would feel him ebbing away.

He arose
When at last he could,
Gathered himself,
And started home.

“How was your day? ”
She asked,
Looking up,
Pausing a moment,
seeing something new in him.

“I didn’t get a full cord, ”
He replied,
Averting his eyes,
Knowing she had seen.

She turned back to her work.
Said nothing more.
He unlaced his boots,
Placed them,
just so,
beneath his coat.


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