portion of the artwork for Jennifer Finstrom's poetry

Upper Peninsula Lumberjack: Andrew Finstrom, 1916
Jennifer Finstrom

This was before chainsaws and other modern machinery changed the way the work was done:
my great-grandfather would have hefted an axe, taken one end of a two-man saw’s metal wing,
moved the cut logs slowly by hand down the Ford River’s snow-cold current. The logging camp
was on his land, the farm in Flat Rock where my father later took me. We stopped the car
and peered up at trees cresting a hill, the house no longer visible from the road, possibly now
a ruin. My great-grandfather was a young man in the years before World War I, Swedish the only
language that he knew, though the trees, before they were cut, might have heard French and
Finnish, Italian and German from the men who worked with him to move the logs. In the only
picture that I have of him, he might still be a teenager, but is nonetheless clearly grown-up,
an adult. He looks nothing like Paul Bunyan, might have been a salesman or banker lounging
easily in his chair in his good clothes, legs crossed, leaning back, who knows how many trees
away from the one that would fell him solidly into a few brief lines of print in the Escanaba Daily
Press
, obituary cut short, his crew lifting him gently from the still trembling earth.

Table of Contents | Return to Poem Directory



FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 41 | Summer 2013