Goethe’s clock is ticking in an empty room.
He sits quite motionless. All art, then peels
a curling strip of wallpaper from a dilapidated
wall, begins, he says, from what we know
and seeks connections everywhere. All poetry
gives probability to our disjointed world.
Goethe winds his clock each afternoon
at twenty five to four. I wind the present on,
he says, the shipwrecked man ashore. I will assert
my part in what, until a moment such as this,
has been concealed. I wind a dawn of flickering
light bulbs into something more meticulous.
Goethe winds his clock against a floodgate
swelling with the pressing weight of all he knows
but fears will forget, the force of instinct, reason
and the privilege of art, the walls of books.
I wind, he says, the unexpected footprints
in the newly fallen snow. I wind the barricades
set up against the odds of never growing old.
I wind the passive consciousness of such
impossibilities. I wind, he says, and pours
a quantity of wine into an empty glass,
the sum of almost everything I ever knew
into a time that doesn’t pass.
Brian Wake's Other Poems
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