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Angela France

The axe is not the same.

This one is a single piece of shiny steel,

rubber-sleeved where my hand grips,

bought, not inherited.


The other’s rusty head wobbled a little

on the haft, a cut nail hammered

into the eye where weathered wood

had shrunk and splintered.


The favoured errand: to the woodyard

with a bag and a handful of coins,

to return with offcuts and kneel

in the yard to chop kindling.


Skirting board was the best;

straight grained and smooth-planed,

falling easily into even-sized sticks

to feed the hungry Parkray.


I kneel with my bright axe,

still challenging myself to chop

close either side of a knot in the wood,

to guess how many sticks will fall away.


I could buy kindling or firelighters

for my open fire but skirting boardis still the best, splits smooth and straightas ever. Such things can comfort us.

Angela France’s publications include ‘Occupation’ (Ragged Raven, 2009),‘Lessons in Mallemaroking’ (Nine Arches, 2011), ‘Hide’ (Nine Arches 2013) and The Hill(Nine Arches 2017).  The Hill was developed into a multi-media poetry show which Angela toured, funded by Arts Council England. Her latest collection, Terminarchy, came out from Nine Arches in Summer 2021. Angela teaches creative writing at the University of Gloucestershire and in community settings. She runs the monthly reading series in Cheltenham, ‘Buzzwords’

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