Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

The quarter-inch chain is wrapped around the spruce
like a Saxon’s braiding, woven on a forearm.
He throws the last length over logs hemmed in
the trailer’s iron posts which now lean out
under the weight and pitch of so much timber.
With hands caked now in pitch and fragrant sawdust,
he hooks both ends of the chain to the come-along
and pulls the lever three times with his boot
braced on the tire, locking down the gears
inside the ratchet’s oily, heavy clicks now tight
as coiled desire holding fast
to what it never wishes to let past.

Dear Reader,

We launched the First Things 2023 Year-End Campaign to keep articles like the one you just read free of charge to everyone.

Measured in dollars and cents, this doesn't make sense. But consider who is able to read First Things: pastors and priests, college students and professors, young professionals and families. Last year, we had more than three million unique readers on

Informing and inspiring these people is why First Things doesn't only think in terms of dollars and cents. And it's why we urgently need your year-end support.

Will you give today?

Make My Gift