Blue Mountain Arts
Blue Mountain Arts
Blue Mountain Arts

Poetry Contest Winners :: Ninth Contest :: First Place Winner


The Maker of Clocks

by Lisa Holmes

Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths.
No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until
they have been married a quarter of a century.
~ Mark Twain

My husband uses tools with precision,
saws with thin blades made for slicing
through bone and steel. He makes
living look kind and right even
when I swing heavy and light,
some queer noisy pendulum, a clock
not quite centered on the wall, its
arm clicking or squeaking off-balance
against the tick, tick, tick of steady time.
I watch him mark, ruler, level, cut -
"Measure once, measure twice, then
cut." I know this much, the first
rule of love.

I have wavered
here next to his workbench for
seven years, his hands glistening
against bird's eye maple, cedar,
and holy oak. I think... we've been too
easy. Do you ever hate this silence?
Our simplicity? Tick-tock, tick-tock?
The way we say, "I love you," and roll
toward one another in the dark?
It is like a ritual, no foreign, desperate,
revolving sea to part. No new religion.

I do not say these things to him, only
watch his soft movement and remember
the gift he gave on my 35th, a grand-
daughter clock, inscribed "In Memory Of
Forrest and Laurie Grace, With Love."
I think of the hours it must have taken,
the steady bones of his intent, how
he soaked the hardwood for days,
until it was swollen, adrift, his tedious,
tender method of putting heated iron to
wood, the strength it takes to bend what
God made straight, that rigid frame,
the precision of his muscles when
forming time's smooth crown, his delicate
kneeling fingers laying the mother-of-
pearl down in to the wood's tight grain.

"Now, at this stage," he says,
"I get a little anxious. All the pieces
are here, and I'm certain I must
assemble them, dowel and glue
and nail - there's no going back.
If I make a mistake, if angles
don't match, if bends don't meet
at the proper point, all this
will be for nothing." He passes
his hand across what is to me
some strange cacophony of wood,
a life in all its phases, pauses for a
moment to look at me, to pull me in
with his yawning blue eyes, and touches
me, tiptoes across my skin, this I know you
without words - a certainty of such magnitude,
I cannot resist. I step into him,
my secondhand body moving forward,
tick-tick-ticking toward him, my heart,
an arrhythmic sputtering alarm, and he,
the maker of clocks.

Second Place Winner
Blue Mountain Arts