The Clocks of the Dead
One night I went to keep the clock company.
It had a loud tick after midnight
As if it were uncommonly afraid.
It’s like whistling past a graveyard,
In any case, I told him I understood.
Once there were clocks like that
In every kitchen in America.
Now the factory’s windows are all broken.
The old men on night shift are in Charon’s boat.
The day you stop, I said to the clock,
The little wheels they keep in reserve
Will have rolled away
Into many hard-to-find places.
Just thinking about it, I forgot to wind the clock.
We woke up in the dark.
How quiet the city is, I said.
Like the clocks of the dead, my wife replied.
Grandmother on the wall,
I heard the snows of your childhood
Begin to fall.
from The Voice at 3 a.m. (Harcourt, 2003), © Charles Simic 2003, used by permission of the author.