I found a clock in amber in my bedside table,
its hands suspended, honey-bound, at 12.00.
How it got there among discarded Covid masks
and long-dead cell phones, I cannot say.
In the tiny circle below its yellowed hands,
a single pointer marked 6.30 beside an
inset window capped in magnifying crystal.
The day/month/year were too discolored
to reveal when the clock had stopped.
I felt no sense of imminence in holding it,
as if it had been there unnoticed all along,
patient for discovery like a golden scarab
in the rubble of an ancient tomb.
If there was meaning to its pointing hands,
I failed to find it as I sat among my meds
and empties, staring out the window
at the UPS trucks rushing cold salvation
to the arms of first-responders,
smiling on TV to quell our fears.
I’d been feeling out of sorts all day (just
a winter cough and muscle aches),
when I thought I heard a voice—
a woman’s—so clear, so present,
I spun around to scan the room.
It was one of those hypnogogic flashbacks—
words spoken by my mother years ago
as she lay dying in a distant hospital
I’d woken up at dawn to reach in time.
I saw your grandfather in the doorway . . .
He beckoned to me . . . You really needn’t stay . . .
At noon they pulled the curtain and I fled.
Such memories bring on chills and fever.
The clock was cool and glassy in my hand.
Another truck, FedEx this time, hurried by
to boos and middle fingers from
a crowd of anti-vaxxers in the street.
I reached up to shut the window
when a yellow-spotted spider
landed out of nowhere on the sill.
Then the clock began to tick inside the amber.