The Devil’s New Red Axe; The Savannah

David Rutschman

The Devil’s New Red Axe

One day the devil appeared to a simple woodcutter and offered him a new red axe. The woodcutter, dazzled, accepted the axe, which was lighter and sharper than any he had ever seen. That morning, he chopped and stacked over a week’s worth of wood; that afternoon he chopped and stacked even more.

At the tiniest motion of his wrist, the axe lashed out. A few minutes and the thickest trunk crashed to earth. The man shouted with joy.

Behind him, the devil was turning the man’s wife into a poplar, and the man’s sons—his three beautiful sons—into pines.

The Savannah

Do you remember? You were there, and I was there, and the others. We groomed each other’s fur. All the time I was scared, of those noises in the dark, of the wide sky. I touched my face with my hand.

Someone ran screeching through the valley, galloping on feet and fists. Then we laughed. I had fleas, constantly—constantly. They swarmed over me.

Do you remember how it was? My memories keep shifting. Today, though, when I was sitting at the bus stop and you drove by in your baby blue Mustang with the top down, I recognized you, I think. Am I getting this right? I was the one who tossed twig after twig into the river where they floated away? And you were the smaller one who banged together the round stones?

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