I'm not sure what I thought, looking wide-eyed at this week's Magpie Prompt. But it made me do a double take at the object in the photo.
You see, just days before, I was packing my bag to return to New York from Texas after the week of farewells to my Dad. My mother came into the room with something in her hand: Seven pocket knives. Immediately I knew they were Dad's. As long as I can remember, he carried a small pocket knife with him. Always! Men of his generation seemed to ALL carry pocket knives. And over some five decades he rubbed each one of them smooth and used them for opening cans, cutting finger nails, slicing envelopes, and lord knows what else. It's just a small thing that we don't ever think about.
I particularly remember Dad giving himself a quick manicure with his pocket knife on occasion. It fascinated me that someone could have their fingernails looking so clean and professional looking with a pocket knife! He had a technique about it that made me think that he could probably do just about any utility with that little knife.
Once I bought a cheap pocket knife and carried it around like Dad did. I never used it. Didn't quite know what to do with it, so I stopped carrying it. Men of his generation lived through tough times, knew more stuff, learned to do, create, repair, prepare, and utilize little tools like pocket knives, simple as they might have seemed, to get through life.
Or so I reckon.
Anyway, there Mom was, offering me one of these knives to remember Dad by. I picked a smooth, worn, amber-colored bone pocket knife. I don't know how I'll use it. But I'll carry it in my pocket and feel the smooth sadness at my finger tips.
And I'll smile.
June 22, 2010
steel between my fingers
and handle worn,
still the blade
held tight and
my mother offered
a small memento
of his life,
my memory sharp
and cradled in steel
Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker
Photo courtesy of Willow at Magpie Tales