John Terpstra, Naked Trees

In Arts and Letters by admin0 Comments

Finally, reading from a recent re-release of his 1990 volume Naked Trees, Hamilton poet, and cabinet maker, John Terpstra.


A tree asks nothing in return for what it gives, fruit, shade, figure, timber.

A tree is brought to the lumber yard when it’s role in society has already been clarified. Some are called to be wall studs and others to be joists. Some to be decking, others posts. Two by four, two by ten, one by six, four by four. Some are set aside and sawn into planks for the wardrobe, the table. Some are called and are chosen to be sliced into sheets almost as thin as this paper, then sandwiched together with other sheets and pressed flat. Four feet by eight, three quarters of an inch thick, forty-two ninety-five. Delivered.

The need exists for further clarification. A truck grumbles up the drive with the load. Meanwhile, standing in the doorway to the shop, and using a scrap of wood from the pile beside the table saw, someone pencils a small sketch, tossing imperial measures about in his mind as a branch might its leaves.

It was a tree that first persuaded these hands to work the grain, and silently stepped inside.

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