I remember overhead discussions about the acquisition,
serious, furtive; as if they were drunk on fairy dust.
My father would make the purchase on his Saudi trip;
my grandfather shook his hand, puffed out his small chest,
a sparrow pretending to be a goldfinch.
They could afford ten grams; the weight was paramount,
its purity guaranteed. It would hang from her neck,
an emblem of status, of hard graft, of a little Del Boy swank.
Everyone was rather pleased with themselves back then.
So I knew the strange word ‘ingot’ at a young age.
A smooth oblong bar with the face of Fortuna;
like a dazzling sea maiden, serene in profile,
with grain and coin spilling from her headdress –
the crest of their retirement, their harvest.
On the reverse the provenance and assay:
four nines fine, and Suisse; solid, bullion-true.
My grandmother wore it often, drenched in Youth Dew;
exotic at parties like an old Cleopatra dripping gold.
Her hair never greyed; the ingot never tarnished,
just seemed a shade too bright against her ashening skin.
My mother got her cameos, those strange translucent ladies;
I don’t know who got the opals; too much milk, too little fire.
I got the ingot, small heavy slab of satisfaction,
like a plundered chunk of cheese or slathered butter,
as she was before she thinned to whey and water.
Commended, Ware Poets 2016