The dream that labour knows (after Robert Frost)

When spirit is reduced to a bar graph, and pictures
of beauty suffice, and efficiencies of automation
are boundlessly claimed, is it mad, then, to saw wood
by hand, beneath the coiling branches of a grapevine
in a summer sweat, while birds of various amplitudes
sing out to each other, my better self, that I’ve found
here, unexpectedly, next to a pile of broken timber
collected yesterday from outside the pallet factory,
where machines muffled by ear muffs still penetrate
the minds of their operators, in control of the levers
long since cut-off from themselves, and not now
an extension of their limbs and hard-won skill,
even for sawing by hand, able to feel the vibrations
of steel teeth grinding against the grain of the matter,
with a balance, a friction, that whispers, not in the grip
of pleasure, but in the hold of happiness, worked on
over an afternoon, and only halfway through the job
of cutting irregular pieces of dry wood for winter’s
distant warming―mad is it, such revelry?


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