The Woodpile

If it were your daughter you handed the logs to,
                   in a line like a conveyor, one thing would stand for another,
stacking wood one way to know the past, where one thing
                   becomes another, the shove of the shoulders and the pitch
of the hips a thing more like grieving than dancing,
                   of giving something away over and over, landing it
with the precision of a triangle into an empty triangle,
                   a curve into a swale, swing after swing, here and here,
your palms ending up up, a sign like submission, like okay,
                   like supplication. I am not sure where it ends, this job.
No matter the cold, you are warm and no matter the cold,
                   you hand her each log and she stacks it, you hand her each
log and she stacks it, the sound another variable, pitched
                   between bell and knock. She is so sure of where things go,
here and everywhere. Somewhere in the day you start testing
                   her, hand her the long table back at the farm, poultry feathers
everywhere, the pile of gravel that sat for years, the rusted baler,
                   hayfields gone by, smashed plates, you hiding, you playing
this game until memory runs out and all there is is what was.
                   You see what she does, see: no matter the cold, she is warm.
She moves back and forth, makes nothing of the dying boxelders,
                   their leaves no memorable shape. There is no taking stock.
She works with you like you are working, until you are finished,
                   your backs bent the same.

Kerrin McCadden is the author of Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes, winner of the 2015 Vermont Book Award and the 2013 New Issues Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation Writing Award, as well as support from the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Arts Endowment Fund. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, Verse Daily, American Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal and other journals. A graduate of The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, she teaches English and Creative Writing at Montpelier High School. She lives in Montpelier, Vermont.