Thursday, January 07, 2010

Poem: "The Bowl"

Seven/Seven is here again, a new year, the last year of a first decade. For all my Seven/Seven poems this year, I have started a PFFA thread titled "Infinite Variety." From Anthony and Cleopatra, of course. "Age cannot wither her/ Nor custom stale her infinite variety." This month, for a week at least, let Miss Bishop be my muse, please.


The Bowl

I made a trip to each clock in the apartment
—Elizabeth Bishop, “Paris, 7 A.M.”

One clock is short. Another clock is dog
that bounds round every twelve years and barks
at dogs not yet born and dogs gone before.
The good clock in the kitchen is a bowl.
The one I check to go in step with New York City
rests in my pocket, next to my penis,
and that clock rings with a ringtone called Melody.

So many clocks! How does one keep track of time?
I have lived here long enough
to have had three loves, one of whom
is sleeping in my bed, visiting from the west coast.
He is soft, this clock, but nuanced. The second
goes all the way back to the Mayflower, he claimed.
The last is striking fiftyone today. He sounds sad.
How do I sound to him?
How do I sound in his tall apartment of clocks?
My collection of clocks
in that apartment, and that apartment, and that apartment in the city?

First visit to an airport, I was rapt by the world clocks,
Jakarta, New Delhi, Tel Aviv, Berlin, London, New York,
steel roundfaced timekeepers, all different and all right,
their hands ringing in my ears
the sound a wet finger makes rubbing round the rim of a water glass,
and I felt like a dog that is trying to catch its tail.
Dizzy, yes, but filled with so much joy
I think I have not left the spot.

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