Saturday, June 29, 2024

But There’s Canopus, Old Man, Right on Time

The pressed paper planisphere,
About which you’ve shaped poems
Before, rests hidden somewhere.

After lasting twelve decades
Intact, its alignment string
Has been clawed loose by the cat,

So you’ve stopped displaying it.
It could be repaired. It should.
Often the only charming

Item in whatever dump
You were renting at the time,
An out-of-place artifact

Redolent of libraries,
Edwardian gentlemen,
Academic collectors,

Antiquarian tchotchkes,
No value except their charm,
It did orchestrate for you

A pas-de-deux between clock
And the coincidental
Origin of rhythmic time

That wouldn’t have existed
Except for the world’s spinning,
Focusing life on the beat.

All nights you didn’t forget,
You turned the black paper wheel,
And, whenever skies were clear,

You could check. Clocks can’t do that,
Nor calendars, for all their
Très riches heures, pretty pictures.

You can’t see that three-thirty
Matches the clock face with sky;
There’s no ploughman in the air.

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