The Watch - Bruce Spang

When I put it away in my armoires,

set it in a small basket with others of its kind,

I knew I was putting away another life,

the one in which I had to be in the door

at the desk, checking the mail, answering

calls, being someone important, the one

with a title, someone others called “Mister”

because I wasn’t a friend, I was an authority,

someone others looked up to, someone who signed

timesheets, who checked the boxes on evaluations,

who stood by the buses waving goodbye

to students who, when I entered a classroom,

would become silent. I left that self behind.

He didn’t mind. After years of adjusting the tie,

matching it with a closet full of jackets—tweed,

brown, blue, herringbone—the authority came off

like makeup comes off an actor when he leaves

the stage. I walk in the street, the briefcase in hand,

unlock the car door, sit in the driver’s seat, look

at the building where I had a leading role, put

the car in reverse and time unwinds itself—

minutes, hours, seconds—safely in the basket

ticking for the sake of ticking with no place to be

but home where I sit to write this poem.

Bruce Spang, former Poet Laureate of Portland, is the author of two novels, The Deception of the Thrush and Those Close Beside Me. His most recent collection of poems, All You’ll Derive: A Caregiver’s Journey, was just published. He’s also published four other books of poems, including To the Promised Land Grocery and Boy at the Screen Door (Moon Pie Press) along with several anthologies and several chapbooks. He is the poetry and fiction editor of the Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine. His poems have been published in Connecticut River Review, Puckerbrush Review, Café Review and other journals across the United States. He teaches courses in fiction and poetry at Ollie at University of North Carolina in Asheville and lives in Candler, NC with his husband Myles Rightmire and their five dogs, five fish, and thirty birds.

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