SAWING TILL THE WOOD SINGS The Skins of Possible Lives Renée Gregorio At first, the hand aches, saw weighing on tensed muscle, fingers seized on metal, a grip that sets her teeth grating. Back and forth, the long serrated blade grinds the old cedar posts, useless for anything but burning. Then slowly, the loosening of her grasp, letting the tool at hand do its work, her vigor simply guiding it over the wood's irregular surface. The sound of her labor shifts. Her face muscles relax, teeth unclench, then, as if to answer her with her own unfamiliar song, the wood whispers, the saw echoes its own cry, and together–her strength, the aging wood, the metal tool– are synchronized, wholly working, uttering a strain she imagined once, but never heard. ©1996 Renée Gregorio