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.