Rebecca L’Bahy: A Matter of Time

I set the date on my father’s new watch—
it had a round face
big gold numbers
a sweeping second hand—
or thought I had, until at noon it flipped
from SAT to SUN.
The watch had no regard
for my feelings of course,
no way of knowing my surprise
& frustration at its gears locked
in their own world of logic,
like my father—

who in the middle of my story
left the room to trudge slowly
up the stairs, to count his pills.
That’s when my mother, lying
on the couch mouthed the words,
He can’t tell time anymore.

I remember my father. In the ‘70s
he had a garden
where he grew swiss chard
and marijuana.
I remember his black beard,
how one day he shaved it off—

and finding a strange man
in my bedroom, I screamed.
My father’s smooth jaw opened
then and he bellowed: That’s the best
reaction I’ve gotten so far!

It is quiet now.
My mother and I discuss
an exchange of analog to digital—
but in the end we decide to let it be,
decide it’s only a matter of time
before he forgets what a watch
is even for and we too
become just mouths and eyes
set on shiny faces.

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