Marking TimebyUnsung Muse©
Even the broken clock is right twice a day.
The glass panel in front of the clock face slips beneath my fingers, like Dali thought to liquefy it right out from under my hand. My knees feel as though his brush found them as well, and the cruel quick-succession of shutter sounds are drowned out only by a stark staccato pounding in my head.
Each white-hot camera flash flogs a bigger gash of time-honored insecurity across my back.
Why did I want to do this?
Is it for him? Is it for me? Is it for… art?
God forbid, for posterity…?
I am not a young woman anymore.
I’m not old, either, mind you – just another nearing former-glory-reduction, reluctantly succumbing to that insipid melting pot that bubbles away just this side of the middle of the somewhere in between…
With Sir Isaac, skulking just around the corner, eyeing my tits…
And Salvador setting his imaginative sights on my ass…
It’s just occurred to me that this grandfather clock has now stood in my front room for eight years and sixteen days. I’m not sure I’ve so much as looked at it – let alone, dusted it – in all that time.
It called out to me from just inside the doorway of a ramshackle little antique store, as I was passing by on my way home from work, on the eve of my first real objectionable birthday.
The store was going out of business (or so they said), yet – sucked in by an elusive melancholy something – I undoubtedly paid far too much for it. Dare I admit, I entertained a sweet Rockwellesque notion of its sturdy time-honored chime, sounding warm waves of familial comfort all through our tiny home. That the faithful peal and firm tick-tock were accompanied by a softer pitter-patter – for a fleeting moment, in the less acknowledged clamorings of my brain – that tugged at a string and helped puppeteer my hand toward my wallet, was a special bonus pang atop the birthday blues and considerable price-tag.
I was certain this clock had a story to tell.
To my dismay, the deliveryman was brutish and careless. The face (along with the delicate clockworks behind it) tipped inward as he jostled it from the back of the truck and bullied it up the front steps and through our narrow front door.
The pendulum stopped swinging mere moments after he huffed off, shrugging his powerlessness against the faults of the (admittedly, quite uneven) hundred-year-old hardwood floor and grumbling at my very deliberate failure to tip.
I never did get around to having it leveled, looked at, or appraised. Not an hour was marked. I never did find out if it had a story to tell.
How, now, is the pendulum swinging?
Under my hand, it seems to… Yes. It stirs. Gears groan and remember their way.
It fills with life next to me.
I lean into the body of the clock, soothed and steadied by its awakened beat. The tremor of oscillation beneath the carved hardwood casing, resonates in my breast and echoes down into my belly. I press against the low measured cadence and feel my own pulse stir, heat, quicken, and fall into step.
I surrender to the rhythm, one hand for the clock’s and one for mine.
Before me, two-thousand, nine-hundred and thirty-six days worth of dust lift up. Light attaches itself to the flecks. They flit – minuscule fireflies, there and gone in a blink.
Behind me, the click-flash-shutter-snap licks in, joined now by a mounting hum of sweet heady breaths, in perfect time. I close my eyes, letting the sounds of my arousal seep softly into the melodic mix – my fingers giving rise to this, dutifully, for us both.
I cannot suppress the calm smile working my lips.
The pictures are for me. The process is for him. The art, just a mark – a futile effort to slow or to stop or to celebrate the merciless passing of time.
The smile is for this moment, for it all.
I maintain that time has the power to inflict as many wounds as it is reputed to heal, but right now – as familiar footsteps fall on familiar floorboards and carry familiar hands and heart and breath toward my back – I pause us in this moment and leave everything else, for once, to dally with Dali… and melt away.
A tender encircling of my wrist, gently coaxes my hand aside. My fingers slide out-of-the-way with a last loitering whisper of unneeded invitation. I bend to welcome the well-known first chord of a warm and eminent rhythm. I both hear and feel the clock’s face tilt inward, as my body rises, quickens then conforms, to an arrangement we both know – and play – so well.
I yield eagerly to what he knows, what he wants, what he sees… what he somehow still sees.
The stoic grind of the pendulum slows.
Deep crimson welts across my back close in on themselves and regenerate soft white virgin flesh.
Time loosens its clutch on me.
I am new again.
New again, for now, for now…
Until we return to the less in-synch patterns of the not so day-to-day and we fall out of step again – until the dust settles, and we forget.
Sometimes it is just so much easier to tune out the call of each beat and forget, because the dust will always settle, even as the days disintegrate out from beneath it. Newton will lob his apples. Sal will dally. Marks will be made. Paintings will fade. Eyes will wander. Hearts will stray.
Still, as our minutes melt and our seconds slip, the hours – those quixotic vacillating pricks – our hours, have yet to choose… hurt or heal.
Should I embrace its exquisite detail, protect its time-honored splendor, remember to dust it, be mindful to wind it, oil its delicate gears – welcome and heed its hourly toll – dare I admit, dare I maintain, dare I somehow still see…
A beauty that calls out to me.
A truth. Unbreakable.
* * *
My handsome neglected clock does have at least one rather lovely story to tell, and…
Even I am right twice a day.