While you are in hospital I wind the clock
on Saturday mornings exactly as you had.
To change a detail means the treatment
mightn’t work. I watch the weights rise
straight and true as I heave on the key,
two cylinders each attached to its chain
by a single hook – surely too frail a mechanism –
yet never failing to complement the pendulum
and move us on a ratchet, bong out our quarter hours;
the sturdy background sound restored first thing
whenever we get back from holiday, part
of the ritual of return. You loved the clock
for years before we met. Not until yesterday
did I even see the detail of its casing,
the understated swirl of oriental gold,
red lacquer with bits missing, a dragon,
pagoda, a swooping crane; secret stories
there for the unravelling had I the quietness,
the eyes and ears. I hunger now
to tell you how I care for it, my fingers
lingering, each quarter hour eternity
while you grow pale silver
in that hospital bed.