Bill Grace


:) Of Icons That Hum, VROOM and Sometimes Shatter


The fine watch exchanged for flight time so long ago
Taught me the meaning of the phrase 'fly by night' when it was stolen
Even then its gold and balanced beauty of face
An icon of something more than market values.
Through an eBay miracle again it hums upon my wrist.

The theologian Jacques Ellul has written
That the watch is the primary symbol of modern man
I know enough of horology's history to understand
Long before Einstein it helped to conquer longitude
When latitude was safe.
Symbol or not it was no talisman this instrument of filling
'The unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run.'

All of this is sad and somewhat tragic
Homer far more than Jesus
Filling the spirit of my days
Before dog and cat and couch would help me proclaim
A gospel only a few will understand.

It is my mother who saves me
Who in her full maturity lost a husband long before
And a tray full of ruined Hummels
With perfect peace of voice
That told no destruction to her soul of loss - said
'They were only things.'

My fine watch was once another Bill's
And now for a while it will be mine
It's nice to have the loan back
And although the world will kill for it
And its currency is supplanted by better tools
I know from Mom and loss a deeper truth
'It is only a thing.'
Which is the thing of peace and perhaps even of God
And far more worthy than seen things
Even as it hums upon my wrist.


The line in quotation marks in this poem comes from Rudyard Kipling's poem 'If'. I have always loved that phrase and apologize I did not put quotation marks around it from the very first time it was published on Poemhunter. BG

Submitted: Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Edited: Tuesday, August 07, 2012
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