Gavin's Woodpile - Bruce Cockburn

    working out on Gavin's woodpile
    safe within the harmony of kin
    visions begin to crowd my eyes
    like a meteor shower in the autumn skies
    and the soil beneath me seems to moan
    with a sound like the wind through a hollow bone
    and my mind fills with figures like Lappish runes of power...
         and log slams on rough-hewn log
         and a voice from somewhere scolds a barking dog.

    i remember a bleak-eyed prisoner
    in the Stoney Mountain life-suspension home
    you drink and fight and damage someone
    and they throw you away for some years of boredom
    one year done and five more to go --
    no job waiting so no parole
    and over and over they tell you that you're nothing...
         and i toss another log on Gavin's woodpile
         and wonder at the lamp-warm window's welcome smile.

    i remember crackling embers
    coloured windows shining through the rain
    like the coloured slicks on the English River
    death in the marrow and death in the liver
    and some government gambler with his mouth full of steak
    saying "if you can't eat the fish, fish in some other lake.
    To watch a people die -- it is no new thing."
         and the stack of wood grows higher and higher
         and a helpless rage seems to set my brain on fire.

         and everywhere the free space fills
         like a punctured diving suit and i'm
         paralyzed in the face of it all
         cursed with the curse of these modern times

    distant mountains, blue and liquid,
    luminous like a thickening of sky
    flash in my mind like a stairway to life --
    a train whistle cuts through the scene like a knife
    three hawks wheel in a dazzling sky --
    a slow motion jet makes them look like a lie
    and i'm left to conclude there's no human answer near...
         but there's a narrow path to a life to come
         that explodes into sight with the power of the sun.

         a mist rises as the sun goes down
         and the light that's left forms a kind of crown
         the earth is bread, the sun is wine
         it's a sign of a hope that's ours for all time.

    (Burritt's Rapids  17/11/75)

    (* "Lappish runes" -- Lapp Shamans covered their drums with striking magical symbols, which were then used to divine, contact spirits, etc.)
    (* "English River" -- river system in north-western Ontario, polluted with mercury for the next hundred years by the Reid paper company.  Nobody is doing much about the fact that the native people who live along its course have lost both food and liveliho


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