By Kimberly Mayer
New Years can be daunting, but this year I was fortunate to have David Whyte’s poem, Start Close In, in my head.
Start close in,
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
Looking at my hand, I knew, that would have to be my pen. And so in my head I started to compose a homage to pens.
A writer’s needs are really very simple: a pen and paper, chair and table. My loyalty in pens goes back a number of years when in every trip to Costco, I’d pick up a packet of Uni-ball Signo 207 gel ink rollerball pens and toss it in the cart. It’s hard to believe anyone would use so much ink, but I do. Black ink.
The Uni-ball Signo was bold and smooth, with a textured grip. If I had any complaint, its rolling ball tip had difficulty going from a left- handed person to a right-handed person, and back again, or vice versa. Being a lefty, I had to stash my pens from my right-handed husband.
Then, when asked for my signature on something in California, I fell in love with the pen provided. It looked innocuous, bland, but it felt like second nature—almost like it wasn’t even there. Soft and comfortable all over, if your hand happens to turn and walk up and down the pen, while “thinking,” as mine does. The name on the pen was obscure, TRU RED 0.7, and because I imagined it might be hard to find, I snitched it.
Turned out to be 1, 2, 3, easy on Google. A Staples pen, and the next thing you know, a dozen of them in a box at my door. Amazon. Uni-ball or TRU, I’m fine either way, but all this is to say I am working my way to my father’s Mont Blanc pen, which I left at home. I had convinced him to purchase it on an overseas flight years ago, assuring him it would be worth it.
We both aspired to be writers at the time. Dad wrote a memoir during his retirement on Cape Cod, and inspired me to write mine. With a book he never intended to sell, only gift, dad went the self-publishing route. Numerous boxes of One Man’s Journey slowly dwindled in his garage. Not too many years earlier, the same garage contained stockpiles of children’s books, collected on The Cape. These he shipped in a container to schools in Nepal, following his trek in the Himalayas at 62 years of age.
Yet another life-changing example of someone having climbed the Himalayas. My husband too came down his first mountain in the Himalayas, and has been committed to public service ever since, from meals for children on island at home to computers for schools in Honduras.
Dad is gone now, but I have his pen. Heavier, larger, and more rotund, the last words the pen wrote were his. When I get home I am going to fill his Mont Blanc with black ink and make it my every day pen. Using his pen will be like holding his hand.
7 responses to “Ode to a Pen”
Pens: so important. “Using his pen will be like holding his hand.” Love that, Kim!
Thank you, Ann.
Thanks, and as always I enjoyed this. It reminds me of a few things. As
a teen(?) I had a Scheaffer fountain pen and thought it was so cool. I
found some peacock blue ink and thought that was the coolest thing.
Years later when I worked at Park Seed / Wayside Gardens (in the 90’s),
my boss was from England and still used a fountain pen with blue ink.
Hope you are doing good and have an amazing new year!
I have an aunt I always see in turquoise or peacock blue ink too. I love the idea of consistency, of having a look.
Such a simple everyday object and yet you can still “hold his hand”. Absolutely beautiful and touching❤️
To me his pen is more personal than any other object I might have inherited, and there’s a continuum in it.
And thus, he lives through you❤️🙏🏻❤️