Taking Care of Time

by Carol Schoen

My grandfather’s grandfather
clock, tall and stately, imperious; elegant
hands; massive bronze weights; delicate Roman
numerals; a small moon in phase,
peeping from the face.

Weekly, my grandfather unlocked the case,
wound up the weights with a golden key, and swept
the hands to the proper time, checked against
his watch.  An awesome sight, my grandfather,
the lord of time.

The clock stood in my parents’ house
for twenty years. When my mother
passed it to us, we wound it, adjusted
the hands.  Fifteen minutes later
the chimes began.

Thirty minutes, twice as many chimes,
Twelve times at noon, twelve at midnight too.
It chimed when we were reading, eating, watching
TV, prompt, proclaiming its ability
to measure time.

It took a week for the clock to wind down,
never to be rewound, but the bronze
weights sagged on the cabinet floor,
the hands locked permanently at noon, moon
phases all out of sync.
Mother came to call.
Appalled at our neglect, stern
in retribution, she had it moved
to my brother’s home.  We had failed
to honor time.

Carol Schoen: She wrote her first poems for Sarah White’s study group and has been chugging along happily ever since.