Our lives are moments handed down from generation to generation upon which we build a new version based on this foundation. Our lives appear to be heirlooms. Today, write about an heirloom, memento, or keepsake. Describe it, from whom it was given and strength of the attachment.


Tarnished and dented; a bauble of a bygone day.


Rake in hand, a furrowed brow.
A bandana handkerchief to relieve
the flop-sweat of a mid-summer’s day.
Calculating time by the shadow fall,
verified by a spy of the golden watch
chained to his belt loop.
My grandfather kept time.

And there came a time when
it was no longer relevant to my hero;
neither time nor the watch.
His body was breaking down, eyes dimmed,
hands no longer nimble to work
or keep time. The watch too had stopped
after his frail hands had dropped it
one too many times. Now, I’m the owner
of a broken watch inscribed
with the name of my timekeeper.
Memories of my grandfather mark time.


(C) Walter J Wojtanik, 2014

52 thoughts on “PROMPT #174 – “TO HAVE AND TO HOLD”


    My grandmother had an old kettle
    as tough as her bold Scottish mettle.
    She used it for tea
    and then passed it to me;
    now I brew pekoe leaves in fine fettle.

    copyright 2014, William Preston

  2. Time is a permutator, so to speak, and your poem alludes to that. It’s a mesmerizing work, in my opinion.

  3. AUNTY WINNIE’S LEGACY – my maiden aunt who looked after the Grans.

    Music, love of;
    music, sheet, to play –
    a worthwhile gift for life.

    Memories, bittersweet –
    she had so little time for herself.

    Golf clubs, hardly used,
    so I learned how to play
    until they were lost in a move.

    Memories, bittersweet –
    she had so short a time to play


    A thing of monetary worth?
    An heirloom to hold in one’s hands,
    to comfort the impoverished
    who dream of what that thing could buy?
    A gold coin to light the darkness?

    My parents bequeathed no fortune.
    Receiving no inheritance
    at birth, they left none at their deaths.
    What they had they spent raising us
    so we would not know of hunger.

    What they took with them in the end
    they left behind for all of us.
    It carried them like angels’ wings
    from this finite world that’s dying
    to the next where God reigns supreme.

    We inherited an heirloom
    invulnerable to time and space,
    A gift no one can steal from us.
    Our parents left us with strong faith
    in a God Who loves us forever.


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  6. The Kerosene Lamp

    It sits on my kitchen cupboard top
    like a proud, tall woman
    with a stout, curved bottom
    and a graceful, shapely top.

    When I was a child,
    it rested on my dresser
    and mom would say,
    “Be careful, it’s very old.”

    We used it when the lights went out.
    We would say that our electric company in Pennsylvania
    was so bad that if you waved a flashlight in the dark,
    it would think it was a storm and cut off the power.

    Mummy would dip cotton balls into the lamp
    and pat our wounds with kerosene.
    It was smelly, but at least not bright red
    like Mercurochrome,TM and it worked better.

    I wish it could tell stories of generations back
    when the lamps were always needed for light.
    Did a mother keep it lit at night to comfort children
    in a small cabin in the wooded hills?

    Or did it come from Atlanta
    and carefully tended by a slave
    on the cotton plantation
    my pappap grew up on?

    Perhaps, a little black child
    learned to read by my kerosene lamp.

  7. Legacy

    My antique cameo is just
    one elegant token, but I
    keep it safe, as I know I must,
    ‘til I pass it on, by and by.
    I wore it in my youth but now
    it’s nested in blue velvet. Why
    do I not wear it? It’s a vow,
    since I’ll pass it on, by and by.
    That graceful lady etched in stone
    is symbolic. That she’s nearby
    is something that I’ve always known,
    so, I’ll pass it on, by and by.
    My antique cameo’s here just
    ‘til I pass it on, by and by.


    • For me, the repeated “by and by” adds an entrancing element, drawing me in like old-time storybooks used to do.I love this poem.


    If I look closely inside the hand-
    mirror, long behind my eyes,
    deep above my forehead,
    I’ll see an inch of her.

    That’s all there is of her in me
    though I’m her first grand-daughter,
    you’d think there would have

    been a special connection but
    she was too worried about being
    fair so I got the mirror with the

    fairest of them all hidden inside
    while the others got her silver necklaces.

    But, I don’t cry foul.

    I can see her,
    but the others
    can only see themselves.

  9. Snoopy’s Tale

    A quarter earned for one yellow truck
    Squandered on a larger-than-life dog
    His sister hugged the gift
    Brother’s love saw beyond downsizing
    From two story house with basement
    To two bedroom apartment
    To a single room
    Head drooping, neck broken,
    Snoopy made the cut
    Sorting through life’s leftovers
    Solitary heirloom reclaimed
    By a new generation
    Love’s circle complete

  10. Memento of the Heart

    You never had much your whole life.
    Certainly you never had
    art deco diamond rings,
    or Tiffany lamps,
    or Hepplewhite chairs
    or any Limoges or Lalique.
    You left me nothing of monetary value
    to dust and show off.
    I’ll never be on Antiques Roadshow.
    No, you haven’t made me rich
    but you have enriched my life.

    You know what you left me?
    Part of yourself, for I am so like you.
    Strong, quiet, contemplative,
    family first, roll with the punches
    never bitter, quick to laugh,
    sense of duty, love of simple life.
    I can sit quietly with only my thoughts
    silence doesn’t frighten me nor do
    I have to fill it with sound – noise.
    What memento have you left…
    my memories and dreamtime visits.

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  12. Air Loom

    Invisible lines of migratory flight loom crisscross on a cloud littered sky
    and guided by hunger rather than temperature some rose-breasted ones winter
    they fly in search of sacred rations – fruit-seed and berry –
    not all robins will live the royal life in warmth of ease
    they’ll flee and forage – snake a crazy air pattern in the forest
    but they won’t return to their stomping grounds
    for there, food will not be found…no, not until it’s time.
    When their territorial tune is nearly overflowing from their crimson chests
    when spring is surely coming they’ll find their winged way back
    they save their song for this moment, then they will truly sing.
    Mother Gaia’s given us this sign – an heirloom of hope carries cold away
    just as wings test weather and know snow is on the retreat,
    I can sense green bristling through white and their puffed red melody rising –
    home again and ready to fully embrace their mates
    home again and ready to finally sing from their hearts…
    invisible lines of migratory flight loom crisscross on a cloud littered sky.

    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2014

    Sorry to bend the prompt a little – I had been thinking about heirlooms that Nature gives us…a path that led me here.

    And we’ve had a lot of Robins in the yard lately…I did a little research on them and tried my best to include it in my poem but for clarity there’s a link and a chart of facts @ my site if anyone is interested.

    This was my favorite fact though: Robins sing when they arrive on territory: Robins sing when they arrive on their breeding territories. Sometimes robins even sing in winter flocks, due to surging hormones as the breeding season approaches. However, in the majority of cases, robins really do wait to sing until they have reached their territory.


    When I was very young,
    tiny enough to sit on
    my Dad’s knee
    I found this ball that he had
    utterly fascinating
    Dangling from a wee chain
    (too small to fit around
    my toddler wrist even)
    was a small golden ball;
    he carried it with him always.

    When I was old enough
    to understand, he told me
    it was part of the mystery
    of being a Mason…
    Since everything about
    being a Mason seemed
    shrouded in secrecy,
    I wasn’t surprised
    to learn this little gold
    ball was part of
    the covert operation.

    I didn’t think about the
    little ball again (at least not
    consciously) until years later
    when my grandfather died.
    After his viewing,
    my Mother, brother, and I
    were summarily
    ushered from the room,
    so that men wearing aprons,
    and waving some sort of branch
    could perform a ritual
    as they danced around
    his coffin.
    (At least this is how
    it appeared to my
    sneaky eyes peeking
    in through a door
    cracked open.)

    After an exhausting day
    and too many questions
    from his overly curious
    daughter, my Dad
    took out his little ball
    once again.
    Swearing me to silence,
    (who would I tell, I wondered),
    he began to show me its magic.

    The ball was clasped
    together by four crosses.
    Once he undid them,
    it unfolded into a small cross itself;
    a segmented one, made
    of six four-sided pyramids.
    Each side of each pyramid had a different
    symbol etched upon it.
    I started to ask my Dad what they meant
    but he was suddenly nervous and began
    folding the cross back into a ball.

    I remember seeing a star, a skull – I think,
    and something that looked like a sprig
    of heather, or some other plant.

    Dad cautioned me about not ever
    speaking about the ball again.
    I assured him it was our secret.
    It was – even we never spoke
    about again.

    After Dad died, I asked my mother about the ball –
    Did she know about it? Oh yes, she said.
    Did he leave it to her? I was curious.
    She was huffy, not unusual in those sad days.
    Of course, she told me; then quickly told me,
    she was giving it to the Masonic Lodge.
    Fair enough, I said.

    Several years later, I thought I’d see if the Masons
    had archival materials, a museum maybe.
    I asked my mother which lodge she’d given it to…
    She couldn’t remember.

    When she died, several years after that,
    I wasn’t surprised at all, to find the ball
    in amongst some tie-tacks and other
    jewelry of my Dad’s.
    Now it’s mine.

    Secrecy be damned,
    I’ve started to
    research it online
    and the advice is varied.

    Some say if I wear it
    and I’m not a Mason,
    which I’m not, nor
    will I ever be – I can
    expect to have it
    torn off my neck.

    Apparently that
    material’s out of
    That’s highly
    unlikely; I am
    not keen to wear it
    in any case.
    But figure out what
    the symbols mean?
    That intrigues me.
    And oddly enough,
    it makes me feel
    close to my Dad.

      • I have so many mixed feelings about this interesting piece of history William…it’s mysterious, it’s my Dad’s, it’s a bunch of things mixed up together…you’ve described the poem well…thanks.

  14. an heirloom of hope… I’m glad you bent the rules (if in fact there are any) because you came up with a lovely poem. I miss the robins. They herald spring here and when they leave we know winter is near. Enjoy them and their song.

  15. Wooden Enclosed Memories

    A photo album,
    made of wood,
    carvings on the cover.
    Inside, black paper
    pages of white-cornered
    frames holding photographs
    of my father during
    World War Two. Italy,
    Mussolini hanging,
    and all the faces
    of army buddies
    who counted on each other.
    I gaze at these with a false
    sense of nostalgia.
    For these are pictures
    of a time in my father’s life
    before I was even a thought
    in his mind.

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    (a shadorma)

    The prayers
    of my great-grandma
    laid the firm
    for the person I’ve become;
    legacy of faith.

    P. Wanken

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