ELECTRIC DAISY

I have an old plug-in electric wall clock.

It’s almost as old as I am, the two of us having settled comfortably into our vintage years.

It’s from a happier time for wall clocks;
a time when no time was told without a wall clock.

Every kitchen everywhere had one and our kitchen, like every other kitchen, was Mission Control. The clock was a prime mover; a second mother, both watcher and watched. Each second, the pointing hand tripped its advance; every jolting tick, another stroke of the scythe counting down the seconds to the day’s launch . . . 10 – 9 – 8 . . . . . . 3 – 2 – 1 . .

“Go to School”

There is a fractional pause when checking time; a pause between recognition and comprehension, between where the hands are and what they represent.

The face must be read, as with any encounter, be it lover or stranger.

And though it may be an easy read, honed through great familiarity,
still it wants the moment.

It is, in its way, a mild flirtation; the clock’s face coyly withholding.

There’s a certain intimacy to it all isn’t there.

Face to face, mutually attentive to the here and the now.
We grasp time as the clock gathers purpose.

This clock, my clock, looks like a bright plastic daisy; white petals surrounding a sunny yellow bloom, an electric cord acting as an impossibly long, impossibly fragile stem.

It does a pretty good job of telling time though I barely use it for that purpose anymore. And yet I still throw it the occasional look; there is an enduring attraction.

At one point I thought my clock had run its course; an uncomfortable hum having developed somewhere deep in its acrylic blossom, as if to complain of its labors; perpetually crossing the finish line of an uncontested race.

But a drop of oil quieted its complaint; a drop of oil and a little light surgery.

A toothpick to clear some dust and gunk from the gears and it’s as good as it’s going to get.

The fact is . . .
It was never perfect.
It was always a little slow; losing time as it accumulated the hours.

For a while, an imperfect mental note made up for the imperfect timekeeping.
But finally, as we approach separate time zones, I feel the need to act.
I can no longer tolerate the distance between us.

Behind its back, I gently roll the stem between my fingers, setting things right
for the time being.

For the time being, we are once again in unison; 1:1

I could pull the plug; put it to sleep; relieve it of its labors and its painful redundancy. But that seems unnecessarily cruel; to rob it of its raison d’etre.

It also seems manifestly unnecessary.
Time alone will accomplish the deed.

I suspect its wearing out has more to do with the accumulated corrections than with the actual keeping of time but either way this clock has never been a stickler for accuracy.

A Flower Power relic of the free spirited ’60s
perhaps this clock does not overvalue conformity.
Maybe it likes being a clock but doesn’t love it.
Or maybe, like time itself, it is simply indifferent.

There is something in its cheerful looks and laissez-faire attitude toward timekeeping that I find appealing.

Which may explain why I keep this plug-in electric daisy;
not because its function binds me to the present,
but because its charm ties me to the past.

Its delightful face, so familiar and so dear to me.
For us, keeping time has lost purpose.

It has been a slow reversal of form and function spanning decades;
seconds became hours,
years become days.

Someday,
when all the ticking stops,
what will remain?

This face,
perhaps in the background of a photograph
of a cat
or a dog
or a parent

No longer chasing time
but at long last
captured.

The Angler or How to Tempt Fate Without Really Trying

I went fishing

I don’t know why
I had no talent for it
The wrong mindset
The wrong temperament

Nevertheless
I was drawn to the water
Like any common rover

I cast about
Having seen others do the same
But I, without skill or touch
Artlessly toying with the wrong bait
Relied on that least attractive of offerings
Luck

My pole lowered
Pointing at the water
I awaited a sign s

All senses bent Toward some slight change of gravity Some magnetic tremor Or electric spark

..

..

And then …..


A spastic shock
As my pole snapped upright
To set the hook

There was life
At a distance
Beyond sight but not beyond perception

She must be the big one I stupidly thought
My hands fumbled
I made haste in my panic

The line cut the water without parting it

Still, I managed the thing
Despite my inexperience

Perhaps the fish was inexperienced as well

I caught, I thought
I knew not what

Recovering a measure of calm
I tried to understand the Morse code of its struggle

It seemed
After all consideration
That it must be something small, even delicate

Reeling ‘er in
We closed on one another
She must have sensed the nearness of the surface and her ultimate exposure
For the fight in her increased

So much was communicated down and back the filament
Of our attachment

In a way, I feared that water

In a similar way, she must have feared this air

The two of us grappling
From our opposing oceans
Aroused by the unknown

I was excited
And
As I have said
Inexperienced

I pulled too hard

Of course she got away
The thread was intact
But the hook had never properly set

I looked at the water
For that was all there was to look at

Neither of us had anything of substance to show to our kin
But in my egotism I like to think
We each took a souvenir
Something
However intangible
To remember the other by

It is clearer to me now
That in her passionate flight
She was not indifferent
But it was I
I was the one that was hooked