The Wheel Bed

wheel bed

Tyring Platform or Wheel Bed

The Wheel Bed

The wood-burn tang remains,
purpose chosen
elm, oak and ash,
a pungent memory
burnt into my history;
childhood re-visited.

Metal rim fired,
it’s molten circle
beaten into flaky orange ring,
before,
from the flaming furnace, 
tongs at arms’ length, 
cast iron wrought and shaped, 
the new cart wheel
boldly borne
to the fitting-bed, 
its iron collar
to be burnt into place.

 
Then, 
ice cold water on fiery iron
sizzles, 
splash and spurt, 
heat relayed and remembered, 
felt and smelt, 
rooted in my molten memories.

Cold contracted, 
cooled into the tightest of fits, 
road ready, 
task worthy, 
winter prepared
and good to go. 

Another hole in the farmer’s pocket;
Another meal for the smith’s family;
Another tick of my life’s clock.

The vital wheels of forever – 
wood, iron, fire, water,
turning, as cogs
dependent each on each,
as carter, wheelwright, smith, farmer, 
primitive, elemental, 
part of my story
… and of me.

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Those who are familiar with my previous writing may recall my upbringing as the son of the village blacksmith. As such, I often watched my father, with hammer on anvil, create both large and small tyres of heated iron. I would look on in awe as, on a huge shaped ring of thick iron, the wheel-bed or platform, the iron tyre would be burned on to the wooden rim of a cartwheel, allowing the contraction of the iron on cooling to bind the wheel to the wood of the wheelwright’s frame.  Few such iron-wheeled carts remain in use.

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