By John Sangster
Each day I pass the barn we built, twenty-five years back, my friend and I he the craftsman, the one who knew, who taught the city boy to work with axe and adze. I remember a hot summer afternoon when we'd nailed the last cap shake, how we scrambled down the ladder, tore off our clothes and ran for the pond a baptism, a celebration. But it is fall as I write and remember, the season I worked alone, splitting shakes in the slanting sunlight, the island silent except for the thok of the wooden maul against the froe's steel blade, a flicker's call, kle-yeer, at the edge of the woods. I remember the rhythm of the work, the cedar's perfume as the steel cleaved the soft grain, the wood complaining as I tilted the blade away from me, the shake springing from the bolt Pling! my hands, arms, body doing the work, my mind free to go where it would: Could we live this country life? Leave that other life behind? It is fall as I write and remember, the days compressing, last vestiges of summer warmth giving way. Each day I pass the barn, its roof dark with age and lichens.
©2004 by John Sangster