In memory of Dan and Belvie Simons, good neighbors, good mentors
They always cut wood together,
leaving when the day was new
and morning chores were done.
The wagon, loaded with chainsaw,
gas, oil, log chains, axe,
and the circular cut-off saw
that attached to the three-point hitch,
followed the ancient tractor
that knew Dan’s touch, and always started
on those cold October mornings
though it would not do the same for his sons
On back of the wagon
Belva rode, legs dangling over the edge—
she never wore socks, only cotton tennis shoes
when they worked in the woods—
kept her feet from getting hot, she said.
They spent the day, those two old people,
dropping trees, cutting lengths
just right for the Warm Morning stove
or smaller for the cookstove in the kitchen.
The acrid smell of sawdust and exhaust fumes
burned in the clear October air
as the cutoff saw buzzed and whined,
biting wood with ragged teeth.
They never stopped for lunch
but worked right though
Until at last the wagon was full.
Dan would drive the old Ford tractor
down the hill to the house
where Belva went inside
to light the stove for cooking
while Dan unloaded that day’s work.
Outside the kitchen window
neatly stacked ricks of cordwood
lined up against the fence, comfort
against the coming winter cold.