Sonnet 904 by John Edwards

Sonnet 904

“I Can Hear Centuries”

I can hear centuries in my stove

As the bark and sweet crack of kindling

Release times past held deep inside

From tight grain that once dwarfed Drake

Watching from the heaving deck of his Golden Hinde

Creeping with plumb line along an alien shore

It almost seems heretical to use him so

Like a priest stealing incense from a church's pew

A great cedar that knew droughts and rains and snow

Only to lie upon a bed of moss recumbent now

But I sawed him anyway into human-sized rounds

Before the insects could make of him their store

Black ants and white termites and sometimes

A beetle in gleaming rush herself to procreate

So now I listen to his centuries pass

And in the intervals between his rifling cracks

Try to imagine what to him occurred

While he lived longer than any of us ever will

When he stood defiant against the storm and then the saw

This tree whose death now warms my ageing skin

Before my final fall too, like his, must surely come

By John Edwards



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