Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2014 - Page 39

and the smell of sap sticks to things, sapling fingers of pine define the edge.

God, 'cause you know that past the edge there is the same walk in pine needles and the quality of shadow is the same. Same moment where we put our hands in our pockets, still behind the stream, and recognize the warm pommels in our hands, sharing glances. Fingers sappy and sticking to warm pommel.

Beneath the burnished leaves of a sumac, my left foot is half-cast in shadow. I anticipate, as I take an inevitable step forward, the feeling of the step. But there is only the knowledge of it. The fact that I have stepped. Beneath the burnished leaves of a sumac, half-cast in shadow, there is only the smell of the pine and sap that are sticking between my fingers.

It is always like this here and there is our path through taller pines and the floor is soft needles. Sometimes it seems like a few steps into that moment, but I have dreamt hours of walking, waiting to think, to slip my hand into my pocket. Sometimes the trees seem to repeat themselves. Sometimes I feel like we are looking at each other for so long in that moment when the warm pommel of the knife is felt sticking to the fingers, Clay's eyes still looking like my own

Mason and I had always known about the knives. Our father had shown them to us when we first began to ask for stories at night. The pommels were ivory or some kind of bone; on each, a pair of horses frozen mid-leap were carved with fine red lines. The thought of them inevitably came up every Christmas and every birthday, so when my father placed them in our hands, our fingers shook. There was so much ceremony in it. They were only buck knives, but they had seemed so handsome and powerful that morning. He slid the knife-blades out together, moved our hands over the steel and bone. They were smoother than the rough texture of his palms. He taught us how to lock the blades.

We spent the first weeks of that summer out in the fields and the woods. Behind our house, we had fifteen acres of pine trees. Somewhere in there, past a stream, we had found a path leading to a clearing in the woods we claimed as our own. The ground was damp and green under the shadows of thicker trees. In our clearing, we opened our knives, thumbed our imperfect reflection on the blades.

Adam McAlpine Clark | 39