THE KNIFE GRINDER

by Ken Jones

Pot holed track
the last finger post
points here

Down by the gate I recognise the tricycle contraption from his previous visit, some four years ago. The same old pig-tailed hippy, with his faded army surplus fatigues and shamanic accoutrements of bead and bone. Last time I’d turned him away. Who needs a knife grinder in this outback, where every man and women has their own means of keeping their edges sharp – or dull – as needed? But this time it is different…

Hollow knock –
the rattle of wind chimes
made of bones

I sit him in the kitchen, put on the kettle, and go out to the barn to sort out my own blunt edges. Ordinary country talk. Who lives where now. Who’s died; who’s still alive. I eye him carefully, as he deftly sprinkles and mixes grass and Gold Flake along the edges of a Rizla paper. He pulls heavily on the thin, damp roll-up. Sweat and leather, the smell of ancient labour.
 
There’s something about him. I spill tea -- as out of the corner of my eye I glimpse a gothic devil’s face. But then, as he pauses at the door, an archaic smile.
 
Through the window I watch him set up the tricycle in the yard.

Peddling away
in a shower of sparks
spittle on the blade

“Lovely scythe you have”, he says.
“No I don’t”.
“Up in the rafters it was”, says he, “A keen edge to it again. In three or four years -- its all depends – I’ll be back for you, boyo.”

He turns the corner
but his evening shadow
lingers on the road

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