He’s been runnin’ the
Press in Peterborough
for at least half a century.

A printer through
and through Jack
watched printing
change with keen
eyes as he taught
two sons the trade.

You’ll find him
mid-winter sitting
in the old shop with
his spectacles on
eyeing a scribble
of client’s desire
huddled at the
hot type machine
while his fingers
dance and play
what might be
a church organ
beckoning the bride
and all her friends
even before the
ink’s dry.

Or there
setting up the
so dainty
so elegant
so fine in every way

One summer day
doors open wide
I accidentally tipped
a galley and sent all
those little letters into
painful disarray—felt
like the end of the world
at the time, still

Jack’s kind wise
friendly face would
tolerate up to point
and he’d forever
indulge my curiosity
about all those
magnificent printing
about life and what’s
important too.

Jack’s glance’ll warm
your heart in an instant ‘n
leave you wondering
how it could be any
other temperature up
to the point that
you and he are
talking business.

If you’re down in the dumps
he’ll most likely deliver
a wisecrack straight
at your third eye.

One day I learned
he lost a grandchild
and that was hard
to accept. No
that’s not the way
it’s suppose to be.

Like in a dream
years later I spot Jack
driving his old antique car
all the way from Ontario
down Barrington Street
in Halifax for the
Navy reunion—with
a bolt of excitement
I jump right into
the traffic beaming
and screaming

Barely survived
that silly leap saved
by a smile and
warm handshake
linked back to a past
and family left behind
a world away we
ate fish and
drank by the sea
in celebration
perfect night.

A dozen years go by
and all’s forgot when
out of the blue Jack
phones last night
asking about the
next reunion of
sailors from WWII

Well we catch up
quickly and reminisce…
near and ear to ear
he expresses all this
unexpected gratitude
and warmth which
takes me by surprise

Then so softly in
passing conversation
he relates how his
wife passed away
just six weeks ago

Married dead on
50 years.

We sign off
with promises,
yet the words can’t
express how
I wanta jump back
to Jack on a
jet propelled
by tears

for Jack Hardill (1924-2002)

© Ken Wallace, 1998/2015