And through stained glass
lead light recedes
toward the man
his oaken desk,
of wood cut from a forest once
older than his great-great-grandparents,
to write with ink
words that mean something.
He does not know what the oak of his desk will never forget,
bound, as it is, to the atrocity
in the creation of this silent well containing Atramentum Librarium
that sits, still as black,
black but for the memory of trees,
upon his great-great grandfather’s desk.
He is unaware that his ink is not of burnt ivory,
which would haunt a different species
notorious for its memory,
though surely not so long as the memory
passed through these ancient trees.
No, this particular ink, the source of which
he never knew to forget in the first place,
involves tannic acid extracted
from oak bark, which is then reacted
with iron salts, and has lain in vacuum
to be passed along the paternal generations.
Could it be that the oak of his desk
came from the same forest as the bark
processed to create this here black ink,
which now lays finally open, without quite knowing why?
He does not know to ask the oak, or even how, and so such questions linger in the dark reflection; all absorbent
but for the lustrous sheen of linseed
that gives this particular ink its black depth.
He tries to think
back through his past,
in the boarding-school halls,
far from his father’s home (who daily sat at this very desk),
the boys he knew
would turn on him
until they drew from him
the reddest of inks.
Remembers the day,
must have been
that day when Lucas,
whose father used to beat his mother in front of him (he was later told),
drew his blood well past consciousness
to the fading cheer of the growing crowd.
He remembers the day
the most popular boy
in the boarding school
had been so kind to him
in order only,
after years of beatings,
to be invited
to his birthday,
as acorns lay
littering the shadows,
in the ephemeral light of Spring…
dreaming of those towering trees’ potentially
contained within each one of those little hatted seeds…
and what would become of all of them.