in the woods behind

I have worked in the woods
behind Stanley
in the days when the sawmills
were king

stringy gum
yellow box
and radiata pine trees

we put hard woods and soft
to the blade

down came a tall tree
to my handsaw
down with a crash
to the ground
then winch the dead giant
still bleeding to the truck
trim hoist and away
to be milled

I still remember young Charlie
he was a go-er
and a gun-hand at the chains
but when the tall timber slides
it’s odds-on someone will die
they grow blunt when they’re felled
just a dull moving mountain
of timber

now there’s no mills left
in Stanley
the place where the hardwood was sliced
is a restaurant
you can’t tell
from the remains
what went on in this place
there’s no tradition
and hardly a memory

but the community gathers
at the recreation ground
on the occasion of the fall of a tree
that has stood here
since the halcyon days
old now and a danger
like me

so we saw it and we split it
for firewood
and everyone takes home a load
the over-large stem of a peppermint gum
too big to be cut
will remain
as a stubborn unmoving reminder

of something …

of something …

of something …

what was it again

© Frank Prem, 2011

4 thoughts on “in the woods behind

    • The mills and forest were first jobs of my father and grandfather when they arrived in Australia back in 1957. Charlie was a chap who got them their jobs, and ended up crushed to death. Hard days. I lived in Stanley for a couple of years, not long ago and the poem came together then.

      Liked by 1 person

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