Warming Up

She says, We have a big family. Everyone helps.

The wall of graying oak and maple bends along the dirt drive. Low barrels of fading mums press in around an unblinking blue door. The house is as buttoned up as she is, yet chimney smoke rises. The day tumbles awake. Behind the drift and frost, a pulse.

Her boots stir up leaves that have fallen since the last rain. I imagine many hands, pink fingertips, white breath. The cracking in of a wedge, the mallet’s arcing blow. Someone bends, lifts, carries.

The wall goes up.

I pluck, dismantling it here, there. The loss is barely a shave.

More trees will fall this season. They are everywhere. Obstiant grasp, inexorable reach. They anchor the rust-gold blanket that encircles the house and extends to whatever comes next.

I pull a splinter from the crease in my finger. She takes my two twenties. I put the gloves back on and muscle the last of the logs into my trunk.

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