John Struloeff

Logger, 43, Divorced

When he first bought the land,
the firs were thick along the road,
briars billowing like clouds, stems
thick as choker cables. His bulldozer
cleared the brush in ten minutes.
He rolled them into a viney ball,
sprayed it with diesel from the tank
in the bed of his truck, swigged
the last of his beer, lit it.
Then into the trees—stomped the brush,
nipped the saps twigging out of the trunk,
cut the wedge out, kicked it away,
and sawed the back until he heard
the squeak and groan, and it crashed.
If he faced it right he could cut
five or six trees in a row, laying
them parallel. The smoke haze
from the briar heap was heavy,
and he worked in it, chokering
the felled trees and dragging
them out to the road. The ground
got ratted up. Smoke and fresh earth.
He worked his way up the hillside,
leaving the ferns and huckleberry
and small alder. These would be
rooted and dragged down later
when he pulled the trees.
He wanted to chew it all up.
He and his land would start over.

John Struloeff
Logger, 43, Divorced first appeared in South Carolina Review, Spring 2004.