The Clock

by gm

A. F. Moritz


The clock began to tick. Or I began
to hear it in the room where it had always
ticked and I had rested. The rhythm

appeared, like blood that had been there
circling invisible that surges from some cut,
that bursts open a flaw. A spurt, another,

regular. Won’t they ever end? Won’t it run out?
And it keeps running out, the blood in the terrified
attention fastened on the fountain. The drops

fall on the floor, gather, and flow out of sight
to harden somewhere, lose the nature of blood,
be knowable as blood to the scientist only

who comes later, tests the dust
and says at the end of scrutiny, This is blood.
The motionless face of the clock had begun

to forge forward, in that room that long had held
my body lying still. It was speaking now
a rhythm that ought to underlie a song. A rhythm

made by the mind’s arithmetic, as it figured ways
the skein of featureless ticks could be arranged:
iamb and trochee, spondee, dactyl, amphimacer,

all the paeans… A rhythm that made my breath stop
with conviction the next tick wasn’t coming. Star systems
were conceived and died in the silences

between each two. “Unbearable suspense”, it’s called:
the heart expecting to recognize it’s dead,
it’s been dead while the brain had to wait

a further second—the length of all true thoughts—
for the blood’s stoppage to reach it. Impossible, that ticking.
It can’t exist. In my room, in the resting of my body

there was no time, no future for any new sound
to come from or to sound in. All was silence.
And yet the ticking had come. So all was now

a prow moving in a sea
of black places that were not
till it cut into them. The voice of the clock

went on that way in my craw, dragging me
between excitement and exhaustion
while I longed to be left alone, to be restored

to the quiet of before, where I was paused
permanently, to consider until I could grasp it
this being underway.