In Time

By Gerald Stern b. 1925 Gerald Stern
As far as clocks—and it is time to think of them—
I have one on my kitchen shelf and it is
flat, with a machine-made flair, a perfect
machine from 1948, at the latest,
and made of shining plastic with the numbers
sharp and clear and slightly magnified in
that heartbreaking post-war style, the cord
too short, though what does it matter, since the mechanism
is broken and it sits unplugged alongside a
cheap ceramic rooster, his head insanely
small and yet his tiny brain alert for
he is the one who will crow and not that broken
buzzing relic, though time is different now
and dawn is different too, you were up all night
and it is dark when he crows and you are waiting
to see what direction you should face and if
you were born in time or was it wasted and what
the day looks like and is the rooster loyal.

Source: Poetry (October 2001).

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This poem originally appeared in the October 2001 issue of Poetry magazine

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October 2001

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