The church bells ring each hour precisely
three minutes too soon, and everyone in town
shrugs off that resounding, persistent defect,
performs the minor calculus required
to transpose the error of its eagerness
into a music more useful–an alarm
for our appointments, pervasive warning
not to delay. And it’s told the time wrong
for so long that we’ve all grown to pardon
that peccadillo and to appreciate
its punctuality, most prizing, in the end
consistency over accuracy.
A Small Grief
A small grief remains with you the longest,
after other, more ostentatious sorrows
have been over-handled like ornaments
adored to boredom, their novelty lost–
frangible knickknacks prone to be broken.
Compact and sturdy, lacking fine edges,
a small grief is a curio set aside
to safeguard against life’s rush and bustle–
an unassuming trinket protected
by neglect until it holds the status
of an heirloom valued for its resilience,
its ability to decorate our lives,
to adorn as a source of anguish at once
occasional, modest and enduring.
Tucked into a plastic grocery bag,
part of that year’s spring cleaning,
my mother handed me the baby book
she’d born across four houses and fifty years.
My faded name and birthdate on the title page
in a dry trough left by a ballpoint pen,
then the single quotes of inked footprints,
a shock of pale threads from my head fixed
with a square of tape like a tile of amber.
Later chapters featured loose leaves
of potato people waving stick limbs,
bland faces staring back from the ‘70s.
I thought you might like this, she said,
conveying it without ceremony,
abandoning the child I once was,
leaving me to curate my own infancy.