I remember when the strawberry
farmer down the road who gave me my first job
hired the pulpwooders to clear the pines
from off of a piece of his land. We stopped
by one afternoon to see how they were getting
along, listened to them brag about the winch
lashed to the top of their twisted Ford,
the truck so mangled and skewed that on the
road it looked like the front was in a race
with the rear end with the back bumper
trying to pass on the left.
They talked about their winch and how
many trees they could do in a day. I looked at their
sunburnt backs salted with the white specks
of sawdust, red necks glistening in the hot
summer sun, and wondered if they could
cut enough trees to bridge the chasm between
their world and mine.
My boss, as antsy as usual, turned to go and
the men, sensing the end of the conversation, started
the chainsaw back up. I could’ve stayed there all
day listening to the screech and groan of metal and
flesh against wood, my nose filled with the
pungent scent of pine trees dying.
I never did find that bridge
except now every time I see a pulpwood truck sliding
down the road, loaded with wood destined for the
mill and the paper I write on, I think of the men,
rough like the bark of the trees, whose sweat
runs like sticky sap, whose burnt bodies bring
whole forests to their knees.
April 24, 2009