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The Wood Chipper

poetry by Lynne Schmidt

The Wood Chipper

We feed wood into the chipper,

circling metal blades act as teeth and 

devour bark, stumps, twigs.

Some of what we shove in still has green leaves or pine needles

trying to bask in the sunlight 

because no one has told the branches they’re already dead.


We do this for hours-- 

Cut a tree,

drag the carcass like a deer to be dismembered.

It comes out as confetti,

smelling like pine scented candles

and for several moments I understand why

these smells find themselves in jars on mantle pieces.


When the tree falls,

when it’s a clean cut,

you can see the rings inside.

I count twenty,

thirty from the one that just fell,

the same age as me,

and wonder why I have more of a right

to continue breathing

and this one gets torn apart.


And we go back for one more tree,

the stump is wet with sap

that looks so much like blood.


Lynne Schmidt

Lynne Schmidt is the author of the poetry chapbooks, Gravity (Nightingale and Sparrow Press, 2019) On Becoming a Role Model (Thirty West Publishing 2020), and Dead Dog Poems (Bottlecap Press, 2020). She is a mental health professional in Maine writing memoir, poetry, and young adult fiction. Her work has received the Maine Nonfiction Award, Editor's Choice Award, and was a 2018 and 2019 PNWA finalist for memoir and poetry respectively. In 2012 she started the project, AbortionChat, which aims to lessen the stigma around abortion. When given the choice, Lynne prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.

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