By R. J. Smith

I sit at the hearth, my hands still

rough from the handle.

My back sings with a dull ache

after bringing the axe down too many times.

I feel my muscles soften into the cushion

as the first raindrops kiss the windows,

foreplay to the storm.

Belly full, I exhale, content.

The fire, my guard dog,

spits at the rain in the chimney,

keeping me dry.

Even with the empty chair opposite,

there is nothing quite like the sound of rain.