Ira’s Pocketknife

Last spring your folks came to town
for a visit.
Despite typical, turbulent winds, it was pleasant
and sunny out.

They arrived bearing gifts for you and I.
After some words, your father
presented two old pocketknives on the table
of the cheap diner we ate at.

Pick one, he said.
After some consideration,
I chose the excessively worn one.
The rugged stag bone handle felt smooth;
the blade easy to access, as if it’d been
used a thousand and one times.

He carried that for years in Montana and Utah,
your father said.
The feeling of being gifted
one of your grandfather’s pocketknives
isn’t difficult to describe:
I was p r o u d.

When I tried, in a fit of despair and rejection,
to give that pocketknife back
the evening you pulled the plug
on it all,
my pride was as absent as your promises—
smoke in our hands.

Your grandfather’s name was Ira
but friends and family called him D a l e.
He was a good man, and his pocketknife
fit so handsomely in my pocket.

I couldn’t, for the life of me,
recall what box it sits in now.

 

—N.A.

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