Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Bill Hook

by Peter Branson

Bill’s working hazel coppice, cropped
before the sap’s inspired to rise,
a five year cycle, each bald swathe
twin chains, the wood a furlong wide.

Hand grinding fines the whining edge
to razorblade, the ultimate
design, hooked like an eagle tooth
‘n’ claw, part sickle, hatchet, knife.

A slashing tool, one blow’s enough
for most, a kinder cut, the coup
de grace, held back for bolder staves.

No snarling power saw for him;
no goggles, helmet, gloves, gnarled fist
burl-oak, arm sculpted, leather-bound;
in shadow of his jaunty wide-
brimmed hat, face weathered-conker brown.

Shoots bolt, each season adding size,
like contour lines, man-made, contrived.

He bundles poles, above twelve foot
for hurdles, less for thatching pins;
trails brush on boles to shield new sprouts
from deer; relights old fires, that fresh
bread smell, a role for faggots in
his youth, the baker’s famished pyre.

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