Abstracts From The Burn Pile

In “Auguries of Innocence”, Blake spoke of a World in a Grain of Sand. It’s a poem worth reading.

My camera’s range is not up to the challenge of Blake’s visionary questing of the infinitesimal, but it does help me to investigate larger objects, say —  pebbles, boulders, or even trees.


Treetrunk. Eastern Red Cedar. Juniperus virginiana.

The camera recently helped me discover a World, or maybe parts of one, in a Burn Pile. I’d been on a walk, and had found a pile where unwanted stuff is taken to be burned. There were old, hand-hewn beams in that pile, and I contemplated them.


The beams’ surfaces still hold the original hewers’ axe marks. Looking at them, my mind heard the long-ago “chunk” of the thudding blade, smelled the fresh-cut wood, and saw  golden flakes chips cover the ground.


The beams are done for. They had a good run, maybe a couple of centuries. Their newcut, fresh smell is long gone, as are the waste chips from construction. After the next burn, these ancient beams will be reduced to ash and charcoal, to molecules and atoms, to sink into the earth or to disperse on the wind, leaving nothing but memory, a memory that I, and now you too, may hold on to for a while, until we, too, are gone.



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