He sits in a chair of his own design, hewn from local timber. Arms laid like lumber on the armrests, trunk immobile, head erect, eyes at rest, he sees and judges who passes before him. Mostly, that’s us. Hewn, he said: Spelled like sewn, but rhymes with impugn. We listen, but we don’t always learn. Meaning, in this case, shaped from something larger, by cutting strokes, as with an ax. We nodded. Hewn, we repeated, Shaped with an ax. His right hand is raised in something like acknowledgment, greeting or blessing. His left hand curls around the armrest grip. Stationary in action, he moves by getting us to move. Climb up on my knee, he said, and we fetched the ladders and climbed. We would go to school if he’d let us, and make plans for Sloppy Joes with friends after class, or play games of offense and defense, but we’re cut from something larger than a school, and our arena is bigger than any arena. Let me tell you, he said, About the day I killed my family. This is our favorite story. We lay back and curled into the folds of his monumental trouser legs and closed our eyes to listen. Sit up, he said, This is important. My little sister thought he was teasing and giggled. I clamped my hand over her mouth. They knew as well as I did that the day had come, he told us. One by one, I looked into their eyes, and saw that they understood, even as I broke their bodies apart, that they were the heroes, and that heroes are born to be broken. Now, don’t you children have anything better to do? he asked us. We climbed down the ladders and went to the shed for our axes.

Copyright © August 28, 2007 David Hodges