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Hands Are Wood

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Come see the woodpile behind the cannery.
Come through the wall
            to where the wood was chopped
and the difficult wood was hewed.
There is a short history of commotion here,
where a sudden bonfire spat its surprise
            at the sky—

a hundred feet or more the shavings swept
through disturbed air, and made their own
music, the music hands make, such a yellow
crackle and such a thrashing

in the morning.
Come wait for the heavy trucks to arrive,
            the men in dusters cutting the twine,
loading the long ghostly planks like ballast
            into iron barges.

This will be packing for a transatlantic box,
or paper for essays on schadenfreude, or timber
for dollhouse dressers, or a twenty baht note
for the Thai rubber trade. These matchsticks

will burn whenever you strike them, and this,
hack at it however you like, is nothing more
than deadwood for the fire. Come see—now
even the men are doing only
                        what they were made to do.

Source: Poetry (May 2008)

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This poem originally appeared in the May 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

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Hands Are Wood

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