Poetry by W.A. Ewing: The Pocketknife

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 3.37.50 PMI found this poem in a book in the local library. It’s more of a story than a poem, really. It reminded me of several childhood memories, which is why I like it I guess. Here you go.

The Pocketknife

So unexpectedly, last night, I remembered him:

Antonio, at the volunteer fire meeting, unwrapping the new pike, needed something to rip through the strapping tape.

“Here,” I said, and tossed him my pocketknife:

there in mid-air, between my throwing hand and Antonio’s open palm, the brass studded knife turned slow-motion, lighting in my heart bald and black-suited, skinny, shiny Mr. Schenck.

When I was a kid in his Sunday school class, he was so old, so old he had always been old, so old he had been born old, so old he knew everything, without fuse or passion, quietly knowing everything there was to know, or think about, or love.

And then off he went, one wet Pennsylvania winter, to Florida. Florida! Paradise, Eden! All that sun, ocean, sand, shell’s, and skin. the Sunday he returned, spring’s first teasing touch returned as well. My damp socks were still chill, but the light warm on my capless head. Mr. Schenck had a little gift for me; from his thin hands I shyly took and cupped a slim box, tissued and ribboned.

When I opened it there at the many-boyed, hand-nicked Sunday School table, into my fingers fell my first knife: folding, pear-handled, a palm tree, the sea, Miami Beach.

Ah, Mr. Schenck not only knew everything there was to know; he sensed the way a boy could fly, and how a boy could sit so still, with hints that a whole wide world can be in his pocket, and that’s gonna be OK, always.


A poem by W.A. Ewing, publisher, poet, and author

From the book: To Honor a Teacher: Students pay tribute to there most influential mentors pages 72-73



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