Heartwood considers what it means to be human in the Anthropocene—the age of humans. By rapidly reconstituting the atmosphere, oceans, soils, and the living world, are we cutting and shuffling ourselves and our relationships?
In the face of such destruction, can we still find meaning? Good?
Through evocations of places, creatures, people, and their impermanence, Peter Buckland invites readers to reflect on being in and of this world.
The stern sycamore slid when the river’s bank quit,
liquefying into quick molasses in the ‘13 flash flood.
One thick mottled branch cracked, drifted on
ripples over stones lain over with
stories the stones don’t remember.
A chisel-jawed man, callous-handed, sat
on a sheet rock where the branch rested.
He hauled it home up Jackson hill.
For nigh on a year he worked his old steel knife,
a finger he loved at his arm’s end.
He scraped it dull, sharpened it again. And
after each stroke he sighed, after each keening
scrape peeled wood that dropped to his feet.
He set his jaw, then looked round the room, quiet
as he’d been since she left for somewhere.
He held it, the fine-sculpted handle he’d made into a broom
to sweep away the heartwood.