A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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March 2009, vol 5 no 1

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Ray Rasmussen

Folding Knife

Spring Equinox. A good time to have left Canada for the American Southwest. My tent sits in the warm sun near the ruins of a cliff dwelling. A humanoid figure is etched into the sandstone wall. Its six-fingered hand stretches out toward where the sun will rise. A tree sprouts from a middle finger, and a rabbit, deer, and bird make their way down the arm—perhaps a creation story?

It's the first time I use the folding knife she gave to me when I left. "This is so you think of me when you do your man's thing," she had said. The wooden handle is a polished burl with lines like the surrounding striated sandstone cliffs. I use the blade to poke through the sand, isolating flakes of chert, the hard stone the cliff dwellers used to make knives and arrow points. They sat here once doing their man's thing, sharpening stone with stone in preparation for the hunt.

The only sound in the moments before darkness is a light rustle as the willows sway back and forth. I like to think it's the hunters' soft voices whispering about the women they left behind, whispering so as not to startle the deer that will soon drift into the wash below.

My small fire gone to embers, I fold blade into handle, body into sleeping bag, mind into pre-sleep wanderings, into remembering the time that she slipped from the bed, walked nude with the woman's willow-sway, all curves, and reached out to close the window and lace curtains, reached with graceful hands that can play Bach and raise a fire in my body.

full moon rising
coyotes yip their way
into the hunt

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