Brought back from Singapore,
a gift to be handed down some day,
bought at the fag end of a war
you despised, on a private’s pay,
pounds, shillings and pence the NAAFI
hadn’t swallowed up – the fountain pen,
a Parker, my brothers and I
coveted, mine in all but name.
A gift from son to father, and back
again after he died, it lay
at rest among her other relics:
a porcelain plate, Chinese, faux;
his nest of pipes; another plate,
this one embossed, as if to lead
me into its rustic idyll, Wait,
it will come to you in time, you said.
In time it did but with this censure:
It stays where it is to keep it safe.
Black barrel, silver cap, lever
filled, ink drawn from a carafe-
heavy well as blunt as murder.
I staked my claim by gradual use,
initials first, AH, then signature,
a flourish both grand and precise,
in keeping, I thought, with a better
life than mine, its cursive flow,
the ease it would afford, letter
after letter, enough to open any door
if I could just perfect the art.
Something about the feel of it
between my fingers, the weight,
how it seemed right to reflect
before putting pen to paper.
I retraced the paths I’d taken,
every step, but it was nowhere
to found, lying forsaken
somewhere with the trust I’d mislaid.
You turned away from me. Lost?
There was nothing more to be said.
Only our silences betrayed the cost.