The ship’s clock, stowed in a box
for its passage to the beach each summer,
continues to chime every four hours
(first watch ... dog watch ... )
inside the cedar closet.
then remember the clock,
the watches of a distant ocean.
So a prisoner might sing,
alone in a cell; or the songbird
serenade bright fronds
of leaf and fern, though caged
in the dark of a northern city.
The bird has its arias,
the clock its mathematics.
I string words together
wherever I am—
in planes, in waiting rooms—
forcing the actual to sink
beneath the bright
and shimmering surface
of the half-imagined.
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