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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,
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
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.
© Copyright 1997, 2019, The Fairfield Review Inc., All Rights Reserved.
Document last modified on: 08/19/2003