An old sycamore tree slid when the river bank quit.
The slope liquefied into muddy flesh
in the ’13 flash flood.
One mighty mottled branch drifted on the river
over stones lain over with stories not
even they remember.
A quiet man with hard hands sat on a sheet rock
where the branch rested shy of the sea.
He hauled it home up Jackson hill.
For nigh on a year he worked his old steel knife,
an edged finger he loved at his arm’s end.
He scraped the blade dull.
Each stroke reminded him of sighs, each keening scrape
peeled, dropped, and set his jaw. Then
he swept away the heartwood.