(Dedication for a Magnetic Knife-Holder)

Some of these knives break more easily
than others from the magnet's hold.

Beyond its metal's native grace, what conditions of use
might affect a blade's sensitivity
to the force by which birds wander?

Heat, cold, their rhythm. Oil, the vibrations
of honing. Flexing of the spine. The primal union
of oxidation, caressed by water and air
in the warmth of time, and who knows what
from the touch of wood, the kiss of entry
into the red and green love of live fiber.

Flexing the spine: core of keeping life supple.
Crystal domains of pure coherence, the cellular
structure of metal, strain and polarize
in intimate contact, whirling orbits align
and pool their energies, the metal becomes
responsive, bombarded by subtle forces,
thermal, chemical, mechanical, an X
for our humility, and also of course magnetic,
each carbon-steel body throbbing with faint echoes
of the planetary dynamo, united in creature sympathy
with oysters breathing sad water off Nantucket coast
and the lunar tides of your blood.

If that's the scheme, this intimate
entwining, why be surprised
if over long moons of daily ritual
the particular rhythms of your hands
and your taste for some odd citrus acid
condition your blades to a living image
of some of your aspects?  Give thanks
with a shrine, where like slow lizards
they may cling tender to the lodestone together,
nosed against time, caressed and caressing
the hand of their use.


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