with exact concentric rings,
quickened his mind, swung the axe
and cleft the wood so cleanly the halves
stepped apart like dancers.
gnarls and knots that refused the steel,
made it glance like a sword off a shield.
Once he fancied himself Achilles
in battle sending heroes to the underworld
as he turned the stubborn wood this way
and that, split off the edges that fell easily,
cutting closer to the implacable core.
The block, gripping the axe, rose up.
He crashed it down in a rage.
He crashed it down again. It would not break.
He tugged until the blade was free,
then kicked the block aside and, fretting,
left the yard, like Achilles
having met a thing that would not yield.
Published in The Blue Guitar (Salmon Poetry 2011) and Glimmer, Cinnamon Anthology (2010)