The brown wooden ends of kitchen knives on a knife block.

for my grandfather

Blade strikes stone,
and so, I leave the house, to sit alone
on the front steps.

He will keep sharpening the knife
until the touch of its blade fells a tree
in the forest of his arm hair.

Did he even know how many stains on his Roundhouse overalls
were his own salt and iron? Could the river tell me
how many fish he caught and skinned
to feed his family with six children?

Just two generations divide us.

He’d say Dr. Pepper tastes like medicine,
and I’d wrinkle my nose watching him smother
tomato slices in salt and gravy for breakfast.

Now that he’s doing whatever the dead do after life,
our passions align in rows of tomatoes, candy-sweet
cantaloupes, heirloom seeds coaxed into harvest—

the slicing of potatoes into fries,
the sizzle of cornmeal on a catfish.

Photo by Chris Daish, used and adapted under CC.