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poem from January Thaw
by Bruce Guernsey

The Chopping Block

In its center, a stain,
the dark core of maple--
a knot of dried blood,
a little twist of pain.

Here, the emperor laid his head,   
loosened his linen collar.
Twiddling through centuries,
the chopped thumbs of thieves.

On this bull's-eye
1 put a log to split, heft
the bright blade, hear
the fat hen squawk.

In my darkest dreams I climb
the hill with my son. His curls
spill on the block. Knife raised,
I stare at the sky.

This block is so old
moss grows on its side.
Look into this compass, sailor.
Weep, for you are lost.

image by Victoria Woollen-Danner

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Copyright Bruce Guernsey. All rights reserved.