Knife : a word of uncertain origin : Ross Donlon


…and origin is uncertain, perhaps, since we’ve been for so long with Knife.

How soon after we crawled did flint, shell, stick and need make knife?

Oldest tool. Oldest weapon. Hurting and helping. Which came first?

Food- shelter-death-maker in peace and war - the uncertain story of knife.

Before steel was stainless it was stained grey, colour of stone, cold sea, dead 

skin, sky at certain times. Colour and form depends on the life-time of knife.

Blade length varies with use, owner-gender, thickness and shape. Culture curves,

straightens. Ornate or utilitarian, it wears the wearer, heralds the bearer: My Knife.

Sharpening curves steel, faint waves indent, stop and start. Blades shape ways

of make and use. Skill, care and time are primal tools for the creation of knife.

Grandfather had his made in a railway workshop. His knife, like him, roughhewn.

Rivets on cold steel. Its handle not from bone, wood nor plastic. Mystery of his knife.

Never used. Never made to carve, cook or clean. It waited. Sheathed inside him

His kitchen throne room. His servants and lackeys. His joker. His hidden knife.

A voice can cut. Words can slash. Time deepens the spoken wound weeping.

Threats survive in dreams, even if luck rescues survivors from the knife.

I retrieved it rusting in the past. What did it mean to me now? So many had died

other deaths. Cleaned and sharpened, its memory glows grey. What is life to a knife?