Wednesday, January 11, 2006

There's a Grandfather's Clock in the Hall

By:Robert Penn Warren

There's a grandfather's clock in the hall, watch it closely. The
minute hand stands still, then it jumps, and in between jumps
there is no-Time,
And you are a child again watching the reflection of early morning
sunlight on the ceiling above your bed,

Or perhaps you are fifteen feet under water and holding your breath
as you struggle with a rock-snagged anchor, or holding your
breath just long enough for one more long, slow thrust to make
the orgasm really intolerable,
Or you are wondering why you really do not give a damn, as they
trundle you off to the operating room,

Or your mother is standing up to get married and is very pretty,
and excited and is a virgin, and your heart overflows, and
you watch her with tears in your eyes, or
She is the one in the hospital room and she is really dying.

They have taken our her false teeth, which are now in a tumbler
on the bedside table, and you know that only the undertaker
will ever put them back in.
You stand there and wonder if you will ever have to wear false

She is lying on her back, and God, is she ugly, and
With gum-flabby lips and each word a special problem, she is
asking if it is a new suit that you are wearing.

You say yes, and hate her uremic guts, for she has no right to make
you hurt the way that question hurts.
You do not know why that question makes your heart hurt like a
kick in the scrotum,

For you do not yet know that the question, in its murderous triviality,
is the last thing she will ever say to you,

Nor know what baptism is occurring in a sod-roofed hut or hole on
the night-swept steppes of Asia, and a million mouths, like
ruined stars in darkness, make a rejoicing that howls like
wind, or wolves,

Nor do you know the truth, which is: Seize the nettle of innocence
in both your hands, for this is the only way, and every
Ulcer in love's lazaret may, like a dawn-stung gem, sing—or even
burst into whoops of, perhaps, holiness.

But, in any case, watch the clock closely. Hold your breath and wait.
Nothing happens, nothing happens, then suddenly, quick as a wink,
and slick as a mink's prick, Time thrusts through the time of no-Time.

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