Before ball-point pens came along
When you reached the third grade at
St Leo’s School,
You received a fountain pen and
a small bottle of ink,
That resided in a hole on top of your desk,
And your penmanship lessons were
Written in dark blue ink–
And for myself, a leftie, resulted
In smudges all over my left hand;
I always had to lay a blotter
Under my hand
Whenever writing letters,
To keep the script from smearing.
Even so, writing with a pen and ink
Was a most exciting discovery.
** And writing to penpals
Opened a whole new world to me.
My first penpal was a 4th cousin
In Detroit, with whom I became
Acquainted when we visited her
Family, the summer before I turned
Ten years old.
Other penpals followed, a steady
Stream that grew until, as an adult,
I began typing letters
Instead of writing them longhand.
When I turned 25 I became penpals
With a young wife and mother
In Australia. We have survived
Many crises in our lives,
Over the years and finally met
In 1980 when I lived in Florida;
It was a surreal experience,
Like putting a face and voice
To the thoughts and dreams
Of someone you have known
We still exchange letters but now
Or correspondence is peppered
With the aches and pains of
And now, there is email
And a host of new friendships
And a constant stream of
But I still get a thrill
At the sight, in the mailbox
Of a handwritten letter
Written by a penpal.
Sandra Lee Smith