It is my father’s hunting knife                        which I’ve kept for years
an heirloom from his long-lost youth             something he touched
and honed                   cutting things that mattered to him at the time
My father meticulously completing tasks
as only the best Methodists of the time would
as his own father had shown him                    maybe some Sunday after church.

It’s a tool I’ve never actually used
Instead, just rubbing my hands over it from time to time  
finger to its point                    dreading what it could do
thinking back to when he would have carried it
not through the steel mill where he labored then                  
sweating near the blast furnace that never went quiet
where new steel would emerge
maybe for other blades
But surely he would wield it at the summer Boy Scout camp
where he would seek adventure
sleeping under the stars                      being amazed in the great north
listening to the train rumble by           going east or west       up by one of the Great Lakes
Where I’d like to think he was becoming great himself         moment by moment.

Its metal is tarnished now   and the edge is dull
the handle reinforced with electrical tape
holding it together for decades
just tucked away in a box.
We’re downsizing now and it’s possible the knife will go the way of all once dear things
paperback novels, lucky coins, knickknacks, and rusty tools
A quilt from some circle of women who could be kind to my family
somewhere where there was a church and people had real faith
and tried to live up to it.

No. I still cannot give this knife away            not even after all this time
not even with my father resting comfortably up on that cemetery hill
in his beloved Pittsburgh
where his dear wife looks on too from wherever they are
whatever they are up to                      together now again
How can I throw away this potent connection
to how they were                                to all they did
Rather I’m wondering how I could make it cut again.


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