I’m not a violent man – well, I like to think I’m not.
But here was a strange experience, being startled by the realisation that I held such potential in my hand. All I wanted was to buy a new axe to split my logs, the old one’s head having broken from its handle.
Suddenly however, I found myself not just in possession of a lethal weapon, but one that seemed to have its own inclinations. And even worse, the power to influence me.
I wonder how much that’s a characteristic of all weapons?
Well, the poem tells the story, so no need to say any more, except to add that I was further surprised to discover that what I’d written was light-hearted, when the experience was actually quite a heavy one.
Still, all ended happily – my wood pile is high and tidy, no one came to any harm and I remain (I think) non-violent.
Down there, as far as you can go...
There they were, in the distant corner
spades and mattocks, scythes and axes –
heavy tools, unused and shining
stood to attention in their racks
waiting for their call to arms.
I lifted one to feel its weight –
a Splitting Axe was what I'd come for.
It seemed as though we were acquainted.
I tried some others. The first felt best –
hanging comfortably from my hand.
I’d made my choice and so set off
towards the till, swinging the axe
my new old friend. Round the end
of Fixtures and Fittings, I bumped into
a baby buggy. Abrupt apologies
to a startled father. I transferred
the weapon to my other hand.
Past Hand Tools, Padlocks, Locks and Chains
Cables, Wires – a near collision –
I strode on, as if driven
by my powerful pendulum –
its weight and lineage telling me
what it had been made to do.
How strong its urge, since it had found
an arm to lift and swing it…
Another aisle – Dog Beds and Toys
now full of people, none of whom
had noticed me, working hard
to restrain my axe from taking flight.
The choice was mine – if not the power
to hold back an axe evolved to find
the plane of cleavage, splitting open
softer things. I held it awkwardly
behind me. The swinging stopped.
I slipped past Cat Food quietly.
One Splitting Axe. Anything else?
She didn’t even raise her eyes. I looked back
down the aisles, at all those people –
no severed limbs, no pools of blood –
just a lot of shoppers. Then went home
with my unused Splitting Axe.