Transition Poem 67 @ Jan. 14, 2017

Ellen Greenfield
Splitting Wood

Jefferson, NY 11/12/16

Here in the chill November light
My job is splitting wood for winter.
True, I am too small of stature
To wield an axe
But I can use a different tool.
True, I have to plug it in
But it transforms little power into great strength.

Looking at the space the wood must fill
I almost despair –
So much emptiness to address
But I can start.
I choose a heap of logs to split
Then run them one by one through the splitter.

Each demands my scrutiny:
How does the grain flow? Where are the knots?
I nestle one in the cradle
And press a switch to trigger the chassis –
Five tons of hydraulic pressure
Conveys the wood, unyielding, toward an immoveable wedge.

Some crack easily, others resist:
The toughest snap back to slam a leg
Or mash a finger.
But soon another pile grows –
Logs readied for the fire.
These I pitch into the barrow and wheel to the porch
(An awkward load and hard to balance)
Where I stack them, armload by armload
Close at hand, to last through winter.

From pile to splitter
Splitter to pile
Pile to barrow
Barrow to porch

Armload by armload.

And when I take stock again,
The waiting space is almost filled
The work is getting done
Winter’s bitterness will be overcome.


Ellen Greenfield is a poet and novelist living in Brooklyn and Jefferson, NY. Her novel, White Roses, will be published this spring by 3Ring Press, which also published her earlier novel, Come From Nowhere.

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