Applause by Thomas Benfield

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I used to wake up early.

I used to wake up before sunrise— when the temperature felt a season colder. I used to live on the side of a mountain where a tree fallen over a path could go unnoticed for weeks. And somewhere there was an axe I could use to clear it.

I used to drop the axe like a hammer into the fallen trunk. I’d roll out a cross section and set it like a table. Then I would split the rest of the tree right there, making small piles to burn in the winter. I used to like the ache that the handle left in my hands.

I used to think up perfect answers when I was interviewed in my head.  “I’m glad you asked Mr. O’Brien, I square my shoulders over my hips so that I don’t pull a muscle.” That’s when the live studio audience would make small adjustments in their seats, hoping that one day they might get to chop wood with the same artistry that I could, and they’d applaud.


Thomas Benfield

Thomas Benfield is a graduate of the New School’s documentary poetry concentration. He currently works and lives in Brooklyn, NY as a script writer for a forthcoming long-form biographical podcast.

Previous Publications
Thomas has been published in The New London Day, The Ibbetson Street Press, Eleven and a Half Journal, and Showbear Family Circus.

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Photo credit by Markusspiske

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