For His Eighteenth Birthday – 5/16/05

Monday Poem, A Year and a Day

For His Eighteenth Birthday – 5/16/05

The barrel is warmed by my hand’s reverent grip,
rounded edges looking improbably soft.
Its walnut stock, marred here and there,
each scratch a story I can never know.

This is my Grandfather’s gun.
A long ago present from a father to his son.

A harsh gift, some would say, viewed through the lens of today’s world.
Yet a tender and well reasoned one for so long ago.

The hours it has spent hanging over his young shoulder.
The woodland glades it has crossed, reflecting the autumn sun.
The ducks and pheasants that have fallen to it,
and the dinners and sandwiches they later became.

I am told it is a good gun. A collector’s piece, now.
I am told of its value, but I know its real worth and I am rich to have it.

This is not my gun.

I am but its steward.

It will be kept clean and dry,
oiled and shining,
just as he kept it.

This is my Grandfather’s gun,
and always shall be.

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4 Responses

  1. I think I can understand where you’re coming from. My grandfather gave me his little shoulder loading semi automatic .22 (he used to shoot rabbits with it) when I was about 13 (I was the army cadets at the time and we used to shoot old Lee Enfield .303s and Bren guns) . I loved it and used to go down to the local rifle range to shoot targets with it.

    When I went overseas (for what turned out to be 11 years) I gave it back to him and he has since died and the rifle has disappeared. I wouldn’t mind still having it.

    • It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? I don’t know what it is about a family gun, but for me any way, it’s very special. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve lost track of your family .22 over the years. Guns have a way of vaporizing when people pass away. It’s really unfortunate, but very common.

      I have a thing about attaching stories to inanimate objects and I always wonder about the history whenever I see an old fire arm. Who carried it? Who learned to shoot with it? Where has it been and what has it seen? That sort of thing.

      The gun that this poem is about is my Grandfather’s 16 gauge, double barrel, hammerless Fox Sterlingworth shotgun. As you can guess from the title, is was a gift from his Father when he was young.

      I’m honored to keep it now.

  2. “I am told it is a good gun. A collector’s piece, now.
    I am told of its value, but I know its real worth and I am rich to have it.”

    I’m not a big on guns, but a piece of history is a piece of history … even if it’s a piece. hee hee!

  3. I forgot to say that I really liked this one.

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