today’s word: kerf

kerf: a cut or incision made by a saw in a piece of wood;  a slit or notch; the width of a cut; in mining, a deep cut a few inches high, used to undermine a portion of a coal or mineral; also a poetry collection by Peter Sanger (2002).

In the crematorium

In the crematorium, I found nothing
but this worn out shoe, bearing one shoelace
with missing aglets, and no bones or grist,
no ash even.  It was not his shoe.

It was a child’s sneaker. Why was it there
and how did it survive the heat, the flames?
I took this as a sign of impending calamity.
And indeed, everywhere, disasters are afoot.

But then I found a very small wooden block,
a child’s toy, and along each edge, a precisely
carved kerf, which evoked a reprieve of sorts,
at least today, may we be spared further tragedy.


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