Pocketknife by James Harms


Red and Swiss (the flag embossed
on enamel), no mention of the Army
though once there were three letters,
initials now worn to a few white flecks
as the blade flicks forward, the rub
of the thumb, the crumbs of old
cheese and bread in the hinge, a corkscrew
and can opener, the tiny toothpick
shadowed by tweezers, both tucked
in slender grooves beside a ring at one end
to attach a set of keys, a perfect tool
stowed for years in a cigar box beneath
a lost tooth and a baby bracelet,
a wedding ring and a piece of pyrite.


James Harms is the author of ten books including, most recently, ROWING WITH WINGS (Carnegie Mellon University Press 2017).

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