Timepiece

Today I strapped a leather band to my wrist.
It glided on easily even though nine months
or more have passed since I last wore one.
When I was a child, and even more recently,
I could see the outline of the timepiece on my wrist—
the skin pale when I removed it, like grass
under a coiled garden hose. When I wore
a timepiece daily, I could fit it to my wrist
like a child putting together a first puzzle—
the sort where each puzzle piece is perfectly outlined
in the wooden tray designed to receive it.

Today I wore the timepiece because, as I spent
time with you, I wanted to effortlessly stretch
my arm when it was time to part, and then go.
I didn’t want my eyes to furtively search walls.
I didn’t want to reach into my purse for an object,
square as a cigarette lighter, that, with the press
of a button, emits a blue light.

So today I wore a timepiece.
In doing so I recalled childhood lessons:
“What does the hour hand say?
What does the minute hand say?”
Of course, the hour hand, like the minute hand,
says nothing. It is the angle, the degree
of separation—that tells the time.
All day long we are apart from each other.
The minute hand does most of the running,
but the hour hand has his day, too, sometimes
and moves the minute hand along.

Each tries to gain on the other, each trying forever
to reach the other and succeeding most strikingly
at midnight and at noon. But at midnight
the two hands, momentarily parallel,
are too sleepy to fully appreciate the moment.
Then the minute hand rolls off and starts running again.
At noon hunger demands that the parallel fast be broken,
though the arms of the clock,
like the legs of a compass,
will draw us together again.

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