Joey Cifelli ’23
September 28, 2022, Part 1 (Featured Image)
The shop hummed with the energy of preparation. Lean, muscled men brushed blades to a mirror shine. Boys ran around in aprons, tools poking out of their pockets, packing equipment into packs. An excitement, there was. Paul could hardly stand it. “When are we going to go already?” he whined to one of the lean men. The man was master carver Morgan, age of 45, and still he moved with the ease of a cat. Morgan put down his blade. It was a wicked-looking thing, three-foot long and arced like a crescent moon. He spoke in calm tones.
“It’s nearly time, just as it always is when you ask. How much time you would save, if only you learned to wait a few minutes more. Fetch me that towel.” Paul snatched it from a workbench cluttered with knives and stakes. Morgan wiped his brow. 6.8/10
September 28, 2022, Part 2
“It’s natural to be nervous on your first,” he said. He stopped his polishing and seemed to smile at something inside of himself. “It’s natural to be nervous on your last, too. That’s how it goes.”
“I’m not nervous!” Paul said in a higher voice than he would have liked.
“Ah. I see. You shake like that for fun.” Morgan pointed his cleaver at the tip of Paul’s shoe, which bounced up and down on the dirt floor like a spring. Paul stopped, his face pursed with indignation. Morgan pat the space next to him on the bench. Paul stood, unmoving, then exhaled and sank into the seat. Morgan picked up his blade and resumed polishing. “You have your knife?” asked Morgan, looking into the blade’s reflection.
Paul nodded. “I always have it like you say.”
Morgan scratched at his jaw, turning his neck left and right as he watched himself. He was not a vain man, but he was a man nonetheless. 7.4/10
September 29, 2022, Part 1
“Take it out,” he said. A second of shuffling leather, and Paul held a simple dagger, eight inches long, bone handle a souring white. “Look at it,” Morgan said.
“I can see it fine!” said Paul.
“You know what I mean, boy,” said Morgan. “Go on, look at it.” Paul did as he was told. The blade was storm grey, the grain slight and swirled. “What do you see?” said Morgan.
“I see a knife,” Paul said. The boy looked to his right and found Morgan’s eyes looking into his own. Paul looked back to his dagger. “I see metal,” he said.
“Is that all you see?” said Morgan.
“That’s all that’s there,” replied Paul. Morgan made a clicking noise with his tongue. He turned his blade so that its flat side faced Paul. “What do you see in mine?” asked the man. Paul watched the lump in his throat bulge as he swallowed. 7.5/10
September 29, 2022, Part 2
“I see myself,” he said.
“Yes,” said Morgan, “as you always should, A blade is not a piece of metal. Not to us. It is a reflection of the one who wields it. Within its surface lies the self. Every time you swing your blade, you damage that reflection. You damage your self. That is why you learn precision and judgement, so that each strike is placed only where it is needed. Your blade reflects nothing. Tell me, are you nothing?”
Paul met his master’s eyes. They burned with something Paul couldn’t name. Something fierce and old. “I’m not nothing,” he said.
Morgan tossed his a rag. “Good,” said the master carver, “now show me.” 7.1/10
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