Some stories

are best written out by hand, in fine
black ink with an old-fashioned

fountain pen with a modest, polished
carriage and a solid but flexible nib—

for instance, this story about how
my mother was a farmer’s daughter

who married a lawyer twenty years
her senior. They met the summer she

tended the cash register at The Midway
Restaurant and Bar in a sleepy northern

town on the coast, trying to put herself
through college. When I was a girl,

she recounted how he used to come in
with the same group of his friends in law

school, not so young men newly hopeful
in a world after war, all wearing suits

despite the infernal heat: cravats, hats, one
good pen with its small gold arrow clipped

like a talisman in the breast pocket. Oh
but after food and a few rounds of drink,

those ties were loosened, and even the shyest
could make bold to stagger over to the counter

to invite the girl with the perfectly shaped brows
to sit at their table. In another version of this

story, my mother says he threatened to break
every single wineglass on the counter to get

her attention if need be, if she refused.
The rest, as they say, is history. A few

months later, in the cathedral, as family
and friends looked on (my mother’s poorer

relations on one side of the church),
they signed their vows: his signature

looped and sprawling, hers neat and upright,
every letter in its place, elegant as a pin.

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