Jackknife

 

 

My grandfather spoke in symbols

the way they did in Bogart's day.

I lost the jackknife he gave me once,

  I had to be careless then.

 

They said he was a brute, and he looked like Jack Palance.

A fraying image survives him

his arms around a wounded fawn,

  roman-nosed , sharp-browed.

 

They said he was a brute, his sons,

but my Grandma brought his tea to him, declining, aging, dying both.

" Thank you Elska minn". Thank you darling mine.

   A gentleness befit the brute.

 

The left eye long cataract shut, the entire right gargantuan blue,

he read my boyhood to himself

he summoned sight and saw,

  that what I needed was a jackknife.

 

Slipped it to me, Take this.

Thank you. Silence. Tea was coming.

They said he was a brute, and I believed it by the eye.

  "Thank you Elska minn". Thank you my darling.

 

He stopped taking tea two years and rested. 

The eye lay down the hall.

Grandma made tea, called me cookie monster

  and I acted like a man.

 

A final time he reckoned the doorway,

I went to him, Hi Grandpa.

He took my hand, Good luck my boy,

  he arced and folded, ferocious into dark. 

Noli Me Tangere