Saturday, April 4, 2015

Time, Gentlemen

On the Clock

A clock must be constructed with wicked precision,
But the increments themselves can be sliced
As thick or thin as works within the measure
Of sun to sun. We behind the moat know
Time is our trade, but we incline to accommodate,
Make a few adjustments to the gears. It's only sensible
That the hour of the rabbit allow a greater span
For husbands to right their clothes, shove on
Their hats, and shuffle home again. It's right
That the hour of the snake should slip by
As smoothly as its namesake. If you hear me
Steal from the bed and ghost off barefoot,
It's not to take a rifle through your pockets.
I'm heading for the pillar clock in the hallway
To tilt a counterweight a bit, slacken the chain
On the machine. My hands know what to do
To make the bells go off, and send him scrambling
From my bed a little sooner, or buy some time
For us to breathe a little longer, disregard
What the light tells us and obey the engine.

Being isolated for a couple hundred years means you get to make your own time. The Utamaro prints on the "Hours of a Courtesan" are protected. This image of a Japanese Edo clock is from a site on karakuri, or automata, a very fine site indeed. The clockwork is the same in the puppet as the timepiece; it's just exposed in the latter. We've all got something inside us destined to run down.

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