Issue #2: Kindling, Ariel Baker-Gibbs

Kindling

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five days ago i was chopping kindling
for my eighty­seven year old grandmother
when and if your aim is true
the hatchet moves through the wood and it splits it so cleanly
like slicing through butter
or someone knifing through the water
like cells separating and multiplying
or like you’re divorcing the wood from itself
divesting it
forcing it but in a sort of agreement
an unruly taming
because existing is a contract
like how the laws of nature bind the grains of wood together
and cells dividing still gather together
and the disturbed water becomes still again
the sign for divorce
is two hands holding each other and then
letting each other go
chopping kindling is the widowing of the wood from each other
splitting the integrity of the whole, and finding the beauty in it
in the rhythm, in the puzzle, in the brute force
of the separation,
of the creation of an abundance
of a manageable size
you can take it all in your hands and know
there’s an use for it, there’s a need
that this is my answer and my gift to my flesh and blood,
the tree whence i came
the cells and the fibers that grow into the branches
that make me strong now
to know that it’s not merely consuming,
it’s the giving of warmth
and that it can be eked out
but still never for long enough
which is why i was chopping kindling
swinging the hatchet again and again
dividing and dividing
making a space between two
where there’d been none
in single smooth movements.
is that how we are?

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