When I circle God with prayers like the blades
we’ve learned to make, I raise a voice shaped
into words. Old stories say a letter from hell,
opened with no care for seams, straight lines,
or soul, gave Solingen the forge centuries ago.
From this city of blades where my great-
grandfather learned to beat the flames
into his point, he took our family across
the ocean, up from New Orleans to St. Louis
and then across the river below Shiloh Hill.
Here, below the arms of northern pine, old
petroglyphs mouthed stories in the sandstone,
all pointing one way and no one knowing why.
His three sons broke the sod. I want his fifty
knives, sold at his death to strangers from Liberty,
Florence, Kaskaskia, Prairie du Rocher,
Springvale, Diamond Cross, Red Bud,
Ste. Genevieve, Eden. His blades, iron strips
beaten from many to one, carbon hard, edges
wary, will say everything I need to know
of form, of the move from one home to another,
of shaping the raw into a point, one that can carve.