The Blue Ox and the Gallows
I recall my grandfather telling me stories
next to a unhelpful fire
in a one room cabin.
My favorite story was of his Grandfather
Who had built the cabin
at the age of twenty-three.
A lumberjack by trade, so skilled with an axe
that would shine in the sun
that hung over Northern Europe.
He loved his wife, and gave her only the best
of everything he could afford
and, for a time, they were happy.
Men came to the secluded house on a bleak day.
His Lord has summoned him
for an apparent job interview.
To say no would bring the world down upon him,
risking his family and home,
so he gave the Lord an audience.
His skill with an axe had been known to only a few
yet Lords know all the secrets
even the ones no one dares tell.
He became an executioner, and consoled his wife.
They moved nearer the castle,
and he spent more time at home.
Days went by, and he toiled under a blood red sun.
People would often come to spectate,
their eyes catching the glint of the axe.
Nightmares were frequent and he would find himself lost.
Lost in the woods, on dark, cold nights.
His bloody axe always laying nearby.
He would cut down trees to build an unhelpful fire
and the white Birches would bleed
and the Willows would scream.
This continued for years, and the family grew.
A son was born to the couple,
stocky, like his father.
The man started to get old, and grow weaker.
One fateful night, these three left
And returned to their cabin.
It was in shambles, and the boy went into the woods
He had learned from his father
And fixed the house well.
The father turned grey, and the boy became a man.
He carried on his father’s trade
and kept firewood plentiful.
The father’s wife died, and he was soon bedridden.
He told his son to get married
and to challenge authority.
He looked around the cabin and with his last breath
He smiled and said, ” These walls
hold the blood of our family.”
The son did as his father wished and married
a gorgeous girl from a nearby town
who would have loved his mother.
One bleak day, two men came to visit the son.
The new Lord had summoned him
to take his father’s old job.
He killed the men, making his father’s spirit proud.
The son kept to his cabin, and every night
he dreamed the sweetest of dreams.
He was his own Lord. His fair Lady and family
lived happily, under silver lined clouds
in a silent forest of white.