Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "The Most Genius Thing That Man Created"

This poem is spillover from the September 3, 2019 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] fuzzyred and previous discussions with [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. It also fills the "stone" square in my 9-1-19 card for the Arts and Crafts Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] librarygeek.  It belongs to the Shiv thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

"The Most Genius Thing That Man Created"

[Tuesday, March 3, 2015]

It had taken about a year
for Shiv make the knife that
Tolli and Simon had requested
back in their first meeting.

He had to learn how to make
folding knives that would
work smoothly and then
lock securely in position.

He had to figure out
the half-circle serration
used on emergency knives.

He had to get the hang of
the weird little extras meant
to cut seatbelts and break windows.

He had to understand stone
as well as metal to layer
the scales on the hilt, and
how to press in an emblem.

Then he had to put it together
so that all the parts actually worked.

Now that Shiv had done all that,
he had to scrape up the guts
to give it to Molly and hope
she liked it enough to justify
the ridiculous price tag.

He wound up wrapping it
in a handkerchief because he
was afraid of smearing paper
if his hands got too sweaty.

"Here. Happy birthday," he said,
pushing it into Molly's hands. "Tolli
and Simon hired me to make this
for you. Sorry it took so long."

"Hired you when?" Molly said
as she slowly unwrapped it.

"Uh ... last year," Shiv admitted.
"Took me a while to figure it out.
Damn thing is complicated."

"Why is -- oooh," Molly breathed
as the knife came into view.

It gleamed like a live thing
in her hand, the hilt made of
orange jasper faintly streaked
with reds and yellows, turned
almost metallic by Shiv's touch
and textured like woodgrain
to give it a secure grip.

In the center of each side,
a paramedic star stood out
in bold black and white.

"Shiv, this is beautiful!"
Molly exclaimed, staring at it.

Shiv grinned. "Tolli told me that
the knife is the most durable, immortal,
the most genius thing that man created.
It's the universal means of solving all knots,
and along the blade of a knife lies the path
of paradox -- the single most worthy path
of the fearless mind," he recited.

"This is a super-gizmo.
I feel like it should be in
a museum," Molly said.

"It's a tool, not art crap,"
Shiv said, shaking his head.
"Last ditch, it's a weapon."

She nodded slowly. "Okay.
Show me how it works, please?"

"It opens like this." Shiv gave
a flick and the blade came out.

Light danced along the edge
in graceful arcs where he had
used different types of steel
for strength and sharpness.

"The point on the butt will
break glass, or pretty much
anything else brittle you hit,"
Shiv said. "You need to open
a battlesuit, just have at it."

"Oh, that's useful," Molly said.

"The hook thing cuts seatbelts,
or leather belts, or krevel,"
Shiv said. "Maybe don't
advertise that last bit."

"I can be discreet,"
Molly promised.

"The blades are all
seriously fucking sharp,
so be careful," Shiv said.

"Understood," Molly said.

She was one of the few people
Shiv actually believed about that,
since she had to handle medical stuff
that could cut through Toughness.

Shiv licked his lips. He had
to get through the rest of this.

"There's just one thing before
I let you have this," he said.

"What's that?" Molly said,
admiring the dance of light
over the blade and hilt.

"You have to promise
to let it go if you need to."

"What?" she squawked.
"No way, it's a gift, it's great!"

Shiv swept it behind his back.
"I mean it. You promise, or I
tell Tolli and Simon no deal."

"I don't understand," Molly said.

"If you need to throw this at
someone's head, throw it and run.
If you need to leave it jammed in
a cliff, do that. If you have to drop it,
then let it fall. If some fool steals it --"
Shiv laughed. "Let him have it,
and he'll live to regret it."

"I still don't -- why?"
Molly asked, frowning.

"It's just a knife," Shiv said.
"I can make another knife.
I can't make another you."

"Oh," Molly said softly,
and hugged him close.
"Okay. I promise."

And that was worth
more to him than all
of the cash that he had
gotten from Tolli and Simon.

* * *


"The knife is the most durable, immortal, the most genius thing that man created. The knife was the guillotine; the knife is the universal means of solving all knots; and along the blade of a knife lies the path of paradox - the single most worthy path of the fearless mind."
-- Yevgeny Zamyatin

See Shiv's paramedic knife for Molly. It measures about 4 1/2" X 1 1/2" closed or 8" open, with a belt clip, a seatbelt cutter, and window punch.

Jasper is a semiprecious stone usually appearing in warm colors, which works well for knife hilts.
Tags: crafts, cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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