I LEARN TO TELL THE TIME

Submitted by dalcassian on 18 January, 2008 - 3:09 Author: Sean Matgamna

I LEARN TO TELL THE TIME
Winter light waning in the window behind us,
We sit, becalmed, crouched by the turf-fired grate,
Elbows on knees, our palms spread to the heat,
Talking: her sleep is heavy all around us.
Hard times: she has gone back again to serve
In the workhouse hospital for seven nights
A week; two kids, snatched sleep, too many fights;
She can not last for long, nor can his nerve:
Our time is nearly done; and there, he took
It in his head to teach me to unlock,
To “read”, the secret signs on our old clock
(I never would teach him to read a book).
For years we measured time after he went
By the ticking of the money-wires he sent.
1990

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