My grandfather collected antique clocks, so there were several in every room of the house. My favorite was a graceful, black marble mantel clock that lived over the living-room fireplace. Other clocks rang the half, or even the quarter-hour, with a Westminster chime heard all around the house. But the mantel clock’s chime was an hourly set of tings, pretty and unobtrusive.
tossed into the wind
from the chimney top
Framed by marble pillars, the mantel clock’s dial was gold-rimmed mother-of-pearl with black Roman numerals marking the hours and hands with curling flourishes. At an antiques shop, the shop owner had told my grandmother that the clock was free if she could carry it out herself. She strained unsuccessfully to pick it up. Its solid weight never shifted from that mantelpiece until my grandfather sold the house after my grandmother died.
the fragile pages
of a leather-bound book
They referred to the clock as the French Pimp. I never asked about that, not understanding then what a pimp even was. When I Google that phrase, what comes up is “French Fuck Gifts.” I realize I don’t remember anymore exactly what it looked like. Just that I loved it, too, and secretly hoped someday it would be given to me. And that dainty chime, I can still hear it overhead as my child-self loses another hand of cribbage to my grandmother.
the slow tick
of waves on the shore
gifts of salt
Kristen Lindquist of Camden is a poet and freelance writer whose work has appeared in such venues as Down East, Bangor Metro, and Bangor Daily News, as well as many literary journals and anthologies. Her poetry collection Transportation was a finalist for the Maine Literary Award, and Garrison Keillor read three poems from the book on NPR's The Writer’s Almanac. Her most recent book is Tourists in the Known World: New & Selected Poems. An occasional teacher of haiku workshops, she maintains a daily haiku blog, Book of Days, at her website kristenlindquist.com.