January 26th – Time was running out and his watch had stopped dead
When he was very young: four,
or five, maybe, he clocked
his grandfather’s watch on the
old man’s wrist. Solid, chunky,
his father’s father in metal,
hooped in steel around weathered
skin. He liked to play with it,
toying with the heavy bands,
slipping it up past the elbow
of his slender arm. One day,
his grandfather smiled, this
will be yours. He didn’t understand
the answer to his innocent words,
not then; how could he?
His grandfather would always
be around, and he was, until the day
he wasn’t. He wanted you to have this,
his father said, days after they
turned him into smoke,
the old man who had always
been around. And now that watch
was his, a relic of the past,
seven countries away from the
sitting room with pictures of ships
and charts of the world.
Along with the watch, he was left
restlessness, a longing for places
across the fold of the map.
The sea called him, always,
even when the mountains
of home rose to the sky
and pierced the clouds with unforgiving
peaks. The sea called him, again,
when the only waves tumbled
across cornfields and rippled
through the trees. The sea called.
The watch stopped. There’s nothing
I can do, the jeweller said,
in another language, in another home,
I’m sorry. He kept it on his wrist,
the dead watch from a dead man,
and measured out his time
in seasons. And still the sea called.
And still he found his home far
from the shore, where traffic
navigated the channels, and
curved glass buildings sailed to nowhere.
And still the sea called. And still
he looked at the dead time
on his left wrist, and spoke again
of moving on, charting a new course.
I must go down to the sea again,
To the lonely sea and the sky,
the words went, and he knew,
as he had always known, that
he would one day find himself there.
Inspired by a prompt from here