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     “Pocket Knife”
 
He sat in
the sun
at the park
on a very
bleached and
weathered
picnic table,
it was an
older style
wooden one
and he was
carving an
epitaph
into it
to go along
with
the many others
already there,
he was using
an old blue sided
pocket knife
he’s carried since
he was a boy
it was a
cub scout
entry level
pocket knife
given to him
by his dad
shortly before
his passing
it had a small
two inch blade
bottle opener
and a tiny
pick
which he was
now using to
leave his mark
in the hard
wood
of the table,
he reaches over
to the brown
paper bag
sitting next to
him
on the bench
containing a beer
a Budweiser
tall boy
the second of
six
that he had
brought with
him
the other four
in a larger
brown paper
bag
under the table
in the shade,
he’s in a
quiet part
of the park
nothing much to
do here
when your
alone
but sit and
stare
no ducks to
feed
or swings to
soar on
to help you
pass your time
just plenty of
wide open
grassy space
to play catch
or throw the
Frisbee in,
there was a
small barbeque
welded to a
steel post
that was cemented
into the ground
to help cut
down
on thievery
he figures
but unsure about
as to why
the picnic table
was chained to it
did that many
of them get
stolen,
he tilted the
brown paper bag
towards the
sun
finishing the
last
half of the
cold beer
in just a few
big swallows
then he pulls
out
the empty can
from the paper
bag
sets it on
the table
than in one
quick motion
takes his hand
and crushes it
flat
he picks up
the flattened
can
and walks it
over
to the trash can
one picnic site
over
from his
a little trick
he picked up
from drinking
in public
you see
it’s hard to
convince a cop
you’ve only had
one beer
when he looks
in the trash can
five feet away
from you
and finds five
empty tall cans
of the same
kind of beer
your drinking
still with
condensation
on them,
he walked back
to the table
gets a fresh
beer
out of his
larger paper bag
under the table
and slips it
into the smaller
paper bag
that has now
molded its self
into a hallow
brown paper
cylinder
after already
having held
his two previous
beers,
he gazes over
the green expanse
of freshly cut
grass
with chained
down
picnic tables
scattered around it
devoid of anyone
but him today
a middle of
the week
sunny Wednesday
afternoon,
he takes a
closer look
at his carving
in the nearly
petrified wood
of the table
he blows away
the shavings
to better judge
the depth of
his newly created
letters
slow going with
his cub scout
knife
but he hasn’t
anywhere else
to be
at least not
today
he continues
working on his
project
drinking his beer
as he goes
not in any
hurry
wanting to get
it done right,
two more hours
into the day
still at it
having to move
the large brown
paper bag
under the table
to keep it
safe in the shade
of the picnic
table
due to the
new angle of
the sun,
he puts the
finishing touches
on his words
smoothing out
the little splinters
and burs of
wood
double checking
all the letters
making sure
they are all
at a uniformed
depth
then opens his
last beer
his job
complete,
letting his eyes
roll across
those empty acres
of grass
remembering those
cherished days
his dad would
throw him the
football
even now
able to hear
his father’s voice
calling to him
“Go Longer, Go Longer”
before his dad
lets the football
fly
and he makes
his catch
as his dad is
praising him
on the greatness
of the play
he had just
made
and assuring him
that he was
number one
on this field
on this day,
he finishes his
beer
and flattens the
can
grabs his large
brown paper bag
from under the
table
and before he
leaves
he reaches down
and runs his
hand
over the letters
he just created
that read,
“Love You Dad”
“your Son”
“Kyle”
with today’s date
carved in
below that,
he looks over
the chained down
picnic table
one last time
a few other
people
having carved
their own
message
in the aged
wood
and among those
were nineteen
more carvings
of his
all identical
except for
each one
being dated
one year apart
all on Kyle’s
dads birthday
starting with
the first one
after his death,
he folds up
his blue sided
cub scout
pocket knife
slips it into
his pocket
and pulls an
old football
out of the
large
brown paper
bag
before throwing
the bag away
and then tosses
the football
high above
his head
and catches it
and continues
to do so
as he and
his dad
walk down
the center of
the freshly cut
green grass
of the park
throwing the
football
back and forth
between father
and son
one more time…
 
     Tom Allen…06-28-2018…