“Tarnished and dented; a bauble from a bygone day”

Tarnished and dented; a bauble of a bygone day.
In a wooden cigar box; keepsakes both, with
little more function than that. The stem fused
to the casing, the workings have retired. But,

it has inspired me to find the link. The contents
of the box play like a road map; clues to unravel
the mystery that is my history. The key, worn and
encrusted with years of dirt and oils from feeble fingers.

It lingers in my hand for a moment, its uncertainty secured.
Papers, folded and bound with a frail rubber band
line the bottom of the box. A visa document,
possibly a first issue wrapped in a tissue to protect

what it meant to an old Polish immigrant determined
to become all that America had to offer. Naturalization
documents, meant to pronounce his acceptance
of a lifestyle long sought, and their acceptance of him

as one of the free and brave. The camera buried amongst
the treasures, bellows cracked and torn, a forlorn
instrument with which a part of his life had been preserved.
It all deserved a better fate, but it is too late to shed

a single tear from your eyes for its demise. The puzzle
is splayed before you, the detective of your past.
A torn swatch of a fabric, hues faded but shades
of blue and red and white pressed between pages.

Finally, one last piece remains. A photograph.
a dark and handsome young man; heavy jacket and
a fedora pulled down across the brow. Intermingled
with other similar folk unconcerned for their purpose.

But the subject stands tall. Proud. Posed to save
this moment in memory, and upon this daguerreotype
for long after. In the background, Lady Liberty stands strong.
In his hand an American flag clutched to his chest.

A chain from buttonhole to vest pockets and a key as a fob,
a cinch to keep his pride from bursting. It insinuates
the only part missing was the watch that sat tucked
close to his left hand. A trinket; a remembrance

of the father he had left behind in Igolomia, Poland
to claim his dream. It remains strong in your own heart
as the box that holds your Great-Grandfather’s declaration secure.
You are sure the timepiece marked his life as well as your own.


Presented at dVerse Poets Pub – OLN Week #104

8 thoughts on “TIMEPIECE

  1. A wonderful piece. It made me wonder, when do things get old? The exact day the crack appeared? With people, we know, we see actors our age, get old, but things tucked away in a cigar box…when do they get old?

  2. I really like this. We have a chest that belonged to my Father-in-law.
    From WWII. Never opened until he passed away. So much of what you have written is similar to our discoveries held within.

    Part of hubby’s heritage is Polish too. Old photos are treasures.

    1. I get it Brian.My GGF wore a wrist watch. But he always had the pocket watch in his possession.the hand had fallen off and did not work for the time I knew him. It was his connection to the Old Country. Those stories do indeed in these mementos!

  3. These “finds” are such precious peeks into the past and memories of people we cherish. Centering the poem on the timepiece is most effective, too.

  4. This is so vivid and palpable. I love the emotional description in your writing. My first visit to your blog, I think. Thank you for visiting mine! Such a treasure for me to find.

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