“Pocketknife”

Pocketknife

Sunday afternoon –
a grandmother removes
a tiny green package
from her bedside table
and drops it gently
into his eager hands.

The boy rubs the inside
of his short index finger
along the glossy green paper
and leans his young frame
against her marigold dress,
while he slips his finger
under the crease
to loosen the tape.
In respect for
this unexpected gift
he does not tear the paper,
but slides the battered case
out of its tight wrapping.

He opens it wordlessly,
his grandmother looking away,
and into his hands falls
a rusty pocketknife
with a handle of worn wood,
delicately carved by
the blade of another,
deeproot stained by years of use,
and scratched onto one side –
the initials of her father,
whom he had never met
but had always known.

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