when my dad died and we dismantled the family

homestead I laid claim to my father's second best

knife: a small sharp tool that just fit your hand it

cut anything scaled fish removed burrs I trimmed

my goat's toenails with it my dad repeatedly said

to any user "be careful of my second best knife!"

we were; we all knew the value of that instrument

all the years it's been in my possession I've used it

a lot and always been most careful of it I have also

come to the conclusion that there never was a "first

best knife" – we'd none of us ever asked to see the

valued object – and I've mused off and on about

first and second best a first best of anything is often

too special too precious it's put apart even enshrined

maybe forgotten but ah a second-best gets regular

use constant appreciation but usually with the caution

of care I remember a young violist she sat by us cellos

in sinfonia but vanished I met her later she said she'd

quit, the world didn't need another second best viola

but the world needs many second best violas just as

it needs second best knives given a choice I'd prefer

being second best of anything than being first

2019 Jacqueline Jackson

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