The Missing Ink

Montie Hanna's poem focuses on the lost tradition of letter writing and its intimacies.

by Montie Hanna


When Philip Hensher realised that he didn’t know what a close friend’s handwriting looked like (‘bold or crabbed, sloping or upright, italic or rounded, elegant or slapdash’), he felt that something essential was missing from their friendship. It dawned on him that having abandoned pen and paper for keyboards, we have lost one of the ways by which we come to recognise and know another person […]

Taken from the blurb of The Missing Ink by Philip Hensher

Here, I keep some things of yours,
tools to re-create you.
I pull out small things, the
sheen of wood-dust on your boots
that blue jumper
the mole above your left thumb
or sift
through a series of snow-globe blurs;
a medley of memories
embellished with your face.

I have files on all your favourites:

colours, animals, shapes.
I know your middle name,
the bad haircut when you were ten
the colour of your eyes,
your number by heart
and yet

If you co-authored the afterthought
“please help yourselves!”
with an old chewed-up ballpoint
across a Post-It
half-falling off the fridge
I would not know it was you.
Typeface precludes
our blobby biros and blotched scripts;
has reformed crabbed characters
to the regularly shaped, available in
small, medium and large.
But one day I hope memory can recall
the unbraced slope of your initials
or the uncropped looping letters
of my name.
And I will smile,
to see that your sleeve shares
an identical birthmark
to a smudged address
on the envelope.

Montie Hanna  

Montie has a protean approach to writing and enjoys experimenting with words, whatever the result. She particularly likes the challenge of poetry but is never totally sure in which form the ideas will come.