Stories and Poems by RHD

Pocket Watch


Pocket Watch

He wore it at weddings
     in his vest pocket,
The conductor of his own train, 
     the master of his own time.
Pursing his lips, 
     with a deft flick of his hand,
He could mark the moment
     of arrival,
His status as survivor
     in a world of war and broken families.
Everyone would see the chain 
     and know.

Survivors ourselves,
     we pass this on to you –
Memories from a box of old photos
     condensed into something gold,
Something that can be opened
     and closed at will.
Perhaps the lesson is:
The hands move 
     against the tension of a spring,
So life unfolds 
     only as the coils unwind.

When we say, 
     “He would have wanted you to have this,”
In what world
     does the “wanting” happen?
Once upon a time:
A man we love bought this watch
     to commemorate himself.
Now, with its handing down,
     we celebrate passages,
We celebrate how we grow into ourselves
     as the clockwork beats.

All of us want you to have this.


This poem appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of Poetry Quarterly.