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Sunday, November 08, 2009

What it had been like


A story a retired logger told me.

There was a word for that -- I am forgetting it;
forgetting things I thought I'd never not know --
As I once understood the way a shackle will turn

to follow the wire rope reaching back to the pulley,
or which way the water will run when it falls
from the crook of an east-leaning alder in the rain,

or run from an alder's elbow that leans west,
when the storm comes in, always from southwest.
Oh, the word! A short one, I should be able to just

say it! Clevis! Yes, we called a shackle a Clevis,
I don't know why. So, John, he picked up the Clevis
and hung it on the drawbar of the Cat, slipped

the loop onto it, and reached to set the pin;
but Alley, he thought he'd heard John say "Ready,"
and put her into gear. So. That wire rope

sang just like a bowstring, and the Clevis
rotated right around the slot in the drawbar
and went through John like he was made of pudding.

He stood there for a moment -- like me, when I'm trying
to remember. I thought he was trying to
remember, then. Fixing in his mind

what it had been like. Being alive.
.

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