Milking the Trees                                                                                                 —Grant Clauser

Hammering rings through
my grandfather’s woods
as we spike the maple trees, rig
the buckets on their hooks
and wait for wind
to raise the sap, tap the sugar
out of thawing trunks.

It’s the pressure, he says,
pushing the tree’s blood
to the sky, stirring in the boughs
like a tingling in my fingers.
We spike the old trees until
sapwood groans, winter’s juice
released into nail and spile
pail for the clear maple water.

Then days later into the fire,
red brick circle and dry wood pile
where the old iron gate becomes
a grate to hold the pot, boiling
down the steamy sap
till ale-gold and thick.

It’s how we mark the season
sweet, drain the things we love
and squeeze the light into our arms.
There’s sugar waiting under every bark
and fire to make it warm.
Our woods, our home,
the syrup running hot.


Grant Clauser is the author of the books Necessary Myths (2013) and The Trouble with Rivers (2012). Poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Cortland Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Southern Poetry Review and others. By day he writes about electronics, and sometimes he fishes. He blogs occasionally at Twitter: @uniambic

ISSN 2472-338X
© 2016