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Swiss Army Knife


The first weighed light dense heavy in my palm
back in the day when Ann and I’d go trekking,
stalking the wild asparagus. Two blades,
can-opener, screwdriver, toothpick, auger—
all stowable in one cool plum-red case
emblazoned with a logo silver shield
that bore the foursquare cross of Switzerland.

Lost, at what point in that decade, unknown.
I rummaged, searched and—not there. Stolen, maybe.
Time, with its crisscross vectors, cuts both ways.

Well, one such knife’s much like another; its sleek
replacement almost might have fooled the wielder.
Repertory stretching as years raced by,
we learned to clean a grubby nail, to pop
a cork, and (if not always those I hoped for)
to open letters—some with compliments
phrased for eyes that read between the blades.

Next time I could cite theft—of the overnight
bag that Chris had packed it in, at least.
Rage a hack might describe as blind or stabbing
slid in between adjacent ribs. So did I
march off again to find a duplicate?
Sure, but chose instead a variant
in black, the unfathomable color favored
by mourner, artist, urbanite, and priest.

To keep acumen fresh it seldom sallies
forth now and only after adopting core
safeguards. Second guesses, disapproval?
No, but I’ve heard its thoughts: "Today’s a salt
synonym for all that is. Walk softly,
gaily. Your compact, black-and-silver ally
will throw the story into strong relief
and lend an edge to years that came before."