MAHOGANY: Harvesting Mahogany WC 294 Mahogany By Michael S. Jones

Week 5 Word: MAHOGANY
Word Count 294
Harvesting Mahogany WC 294 Mahogany
By Michael S. Jones

Five men shot the rapids at Spanish Falls with a familiarity that breeds indifference.

On shore they saddled waiting mules, men and beasts swatting insects that still don’t have a name.

Monkeys above puffed their throats like bullfrogs and howled in protest as they rained twigs and feces on the heads of the intruders.

A white man in a theatrical pith helmet selected a mahogany tree that had sprouted to leaf while cities of pyramids were still crowded. Only a tree living eight-hundred years or more would develop the tight, straight grain that was needed.

Descendants of Maya kings sawed the three-meter trunk and watched passively as one of the last giants collapsed to its death.

Sections of the denuded trunk were dragged to a railhead by oxen, then chugged to a thatch-roofed sawmill.

There a blade, as high as the tree was thick, ripped the precious wood into planks bound for America.

In Orville Gibson’s Kalamazoo workshop a sweet smell of sawdust was over-powered by the stink of varnish as the Honduran mahogany was cut and then split into mirrored sheets. The top pieces were glued together and then cut into the shape of a woman.

The sides were steamed and bent in the same curves, the sound hole was drilled and a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard glued to the neck.

Between the nineteen-thirties and 1963 unknown fingers had plucked notes from the small, dark-stained instrument.

Then a boy whose voice had recently fallen to a lower pitch began rummaging through a basement filled with guitars: both gems and junkers.

He knew what he had discovered when he found it. With ninety hard-earned dollars he bought his first quality guitar, never dreaming of the sacrilege that had place it in his hands.

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