He was the last of the three-board men,
with a Plumb in the upper air;
No chainsaws snarled back then,
Just a blade that would split a hair.
Limbs honed from the cut and the climb,
Taut as a beggar’s speech
He chops in a world without time,
A high-wire act out of reach.
With the crack of a bellbird’s call
Talking back to the mountain ash,
Balanced high in the Eastern Fall
Each cut makes his board whiplash.
Half done, koala down, back bent
Stone the blade with spit, sweat and mirth:
Change sides for another ascent:
“Bet the sniggers don’t laugh at that girth”
Three cuts, pull the first board in tight,
Scurry up, carry two, take a stand.
Make sure the second sits right;
Two overs, one hard underhand.
Up again for the crucial third plank,
Search for the notch, there’s the level.
Getting high as the air becomes dank
The detail is all in the Devil.
Then he’s up, let the rhythm return,
Each scythe at maximum power.
All the sinews are starting to burn
As he sways like a bird on a bough.
A creak A groan Time to scurry.
King swing. I’m off out of here.
Sure-step it going down in a hurry.
Think outside the forest of fear.
As the heavyweight topples he ponders
Of houses it will end up in town.
Then grinning, his mind always wanders:
Six saved for the one going down.
He’s the last of the three-board men,
Artisan of the Eastern Fall push.
They wrote with a Plumb not a pen:
Of those days they were part of the bush.