I like to think that Daddy's gold watch chain,
and the way it came about,
was the true story of "The Magi",
that O. Henry had mixed it up a little and changed it,
as sometimes happens.
I remember it, his beautiful chain,
heavy and each link engraved with dainty leaves.
Each of us had played with it,
pulling from his pocket, the heavy, silver-plated watch it guarded,
just to hear it tick.
I didn't know it then of course,
it was the gold chain that Daddy prided,
not the watch..
He could have bought a dozen of those at any store,
but never another chain so fine.
I wish I had asked, I don't know how it came about
that Mama turned her linked, gold bracelet
into a chain for Daddy.
See it there, draping her gloved hand
in their wedding picture?
Somehow, they never told us private things,
so busy making a good life for all of us.
We were his treasures the seven of us
and Mama and her auburn hair.
Then came the beloved chain.
I like to think it was that first sweet Christmas,
when they were still alone,
that she loved him enough to have
her treasured bracelet altered and
surprised him with her gift.
He wore a leather thong to
hold his watch on weekdays.
Only on Sundays or other times
when he put on his suit, he proudly
added the prized chain.
That's how it happened that the chain was
on the dresser in their bedroom
when the fire started.
Daddy was still on the farm and Mama and we younger ones
had moved to town for the winter
It was so cold, the fire engines couldn't come.
Daddy came by sled in time
to carry the loved library table out.
It was too late and the flames too hot,
to save much else.
I have that table now, my precious heirloom.
Daddy searched the ashes of our home
as soon as they had cooled.
I saw the tears when he told Mama,
"The gold watch chain is gone."
For Carol Brown's "Story " contst won first place