For fourteen years, one axe was enough. My axe was light and industrially made, for clearing brush and making kindling on canoeing trips. I used it, of course, but spent more time telling people about it, enjoying the look in their eyes, the flash of reappraisal. I have an axe, I’d say flirtatiously. I meant, there is more to me than it seems.
The summer I decided to leave my husband for Will, I started to want something heavier, something that would open logs studded with knots, expose their insides. An axe that would split for a woman who wanted to.
If you’ve ever split wood, you know that you must be careful but not tentative--the more confident you feel and the more you trust yourself, the less likely you are to be hurt. Explode up, swing the heavy blade over your head, snap down with strength and power and certainty. And then you’ll have a stack of firewood. And then you can build a fire.
The first time I held my new axe, I felt its power like electricity humming in my fingertips. The next day, I tried it out. I heaved the blade overhead and then towards the earth, halving the log in one blow. I looked up and there was Will.
Even from a distance, I could see his breathing was ragged. I could see his shoulders slowly rising and falling. I could see his eyes, blue and bright and seeing right into me.
Kat Read is a writer and fundraiser at GrubStreet in Boston. She is also a graduate of their Essay Incubator program. Her essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Pangyrus, Brevity's Nonfiction Blog, Prometheus Dreaming and Punctuate. Kat lives in Cambridge with her husband, their dog, and their truly excessive cookbook collection.