The Knife

Paul McGuigan 2013

The blade is curved, with a deep belly,
it ends in a cut back point.

It is made from carbon steel
that has a rated hardness of 59.

The type of steel and its hardness
makes it difficult to sharpen.

He sits in the sun, for an hour,
the whetstone precise on the blade.

He checks his work, shaving the hairs
on the back of his left hand.

When the hair is gone, with a rawhide strop
he patiently rolls the edge.

He parts the wool, placing the heel of the blade
on the lower lateral muscle, under the ear.

He lifts up and back, a rotation, while holding
pressure under the chin, and the spinal cord parts.

Soon, very soon, a carcase hangs on the gambol
cooling in the concrete shed, the killing house.

He washes the knife in ice cold water,
dries it, folds it into soft cloth.