A Pocket Watch

At ten years old my brother and I
walked into my grandfather's farmhouse kitchen
and surveyed a table teeming
with gifts to choose from.

Before us were a selection of metal objects,
pocket watches and hunting knives,
my grandfather was a tool and die man -
intricately bending metal to his will for a living.

We were to choose one of each object.
One to be a gift today,
the other to be bestowed
at a later date.

Carefully I inspected the options.
Selected a knife carved out of horn.
Designated my preference for a stopwatch
fit for a train engineer.

I sat and watched him pack them up neatly.

It wasn't until I was much older that I realized his wisdom.
A young boy will not part easily
with his grandfather's knife,
and a more mature man will treasure
the train conductor's watch.

This poem was written in class after reading Billy Collin's poem "The Lanyard". Collins' poem is about a gift he made at camp for this mother. Because I believe in breaking rules, and encourage my students to do so with their writing, I flipped Collins' theme and instead focused on a gift I received. 


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