It stands, has stood
for years in the corner
of the parlor,

that room updated now
to something less formal, a rumpus room
a den, call it what you will

the clock is there
standing as if that corner
were its birthright

imperial, impervious
and we fear it
the clock is not a god

it is not even a demon
though that
is harder to remember

tick, tock is not a language
the mainspring is not a brain
it is a mechanism

it needs no food
no vintage libation
some linseed oil will keep it

from cracking
an occasional pull
of its weighted chain

will keep it chiming
don’t mistake this constancy
for loyalty

nor its accuracy
for devotion — it is a product
of its making

it controls time
no more than a yardstick
controls distance

if the clock were gone
the corner would be empty
but time would not stop

Still there are times
I’d like to hold its hands