The bark long ago fell to earth,
leaving the stripped trunk of this old elm
to sand smooth in the finishing raw of wind and rain.
Softened by the spalting,
it yields quickly to the savage chain.
I move the tractor to the downhill side
and push the bucket against the section
no longer held by the wad of root and clay.
Brett helps me chain it in place
and we move it down to the burn pile.
The lower part will not lift;
its ton of wood and dirt
swings the opposite end of the tractor into air
as hydraulics over-sways gravity.
We wrap the chain beneath the fork
and drag the whole mass through the edge of the field,
root stubs plowing deep tills through the brome and weeds.
We soak the pile with diesel
and light newspaper and cardboard.
The flame spreads slowly, finally begins to eat through
the dry stems of dead weeds and small branches.
During the night, the fire works underneath,
holding to the core in spite of the two inches of rain.
Five days later, the stump is still burning,
a slow smoldering of substance
still enough like wood to hold fire.
Eventually, all that is formed from soil,
will be surrendered to its patient toil.
we will one day rise from dust and ashes
and take the form of our Maker
rather than that of which we were made.