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          All the Clocks in My House Are Set to Different Times
          By Bruce W. Niedt

          All the clocks in my house
          are set to different times.
          Call it laziness,
          unsynchronous attitude,
          but it's only a difference of minutes
          from room to room,
          as though each part of the house
          has its own mini-timezone.

          If I go to the kitchen for something
          then forget what is was when I get there,
          the microwave clock above the stove,
          authoritative digital blue,
          is two minutes ahead of the anniversary clock
          twiddling pawnbroker balls in the living room.
          So I can return there
          and retrieve the thought of two minutes ago,
          then return to the kitchen for my cup of tea.

          Or, when looking forward to a movie on TV,
          I skip three minutes of anticipation
          and bask in the glow of the VCR timer,
          telling me it's time for the show
          during the overture of commercials.

          My alarm clock in the bedroom is five minutes fast--
          this is deliberate,
          so I can rush to work as though I'm late,
          when in reality I'm right on time.

          The schoolhouse pendulum clock in the den

          is broken--
          When I write there,
          time literally stands still.

          This may all seem confusing to you--
          for instance, the sun that cuts
          a yellow swath through the dining room window--
          is that the sunbeam of three minutes ago?
          Or shouldn't it happen for another two?

          When I pass from chamber to chamber
          seeming by minutes to age and un-age,
          wouldn't this affect my next birthday somehow?

          They say there's a new watch
          that sets itself by satellite.
          This is good, if it comforts one to know
          when the big-daddy gizmo in Greenwich
          second-sweeps the hour, figuratively at least,
          then by God, your watch does too.

          But all the mystique is lost,
          there's no guesswork.
          No one with a timepiece like that
          can say, "it's about eight-thirty."

          I like the imperfections, the slip of the gears,
          the ticking away, the science of estimation,
          the unsettling feeling
          of being off-balance with time,
          even though occasionally it feels
          like coming downstairs and taking
          that extra step that isn't there.

          I like how "now" is defined
          by whatever room I happen to be in at the time.

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Document last modified on: 08/19/2003

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