and in the shop…
“Quintet & Other Poets”,
“The Abbot’s Cat”
Time clumps so thick here
you can put your hand on it
where tourists queue in rain
to stand one foot either side
of the zero meridian.
It’s channelled across the ceiling
in sparking green laser. Outside it clunks
pinball fashion off the observatory domes.
Lightning spears the park below,
the thunder-time measuring distance.
No truck here with those
who say it doesn’t exist, runs backwards
or sideways. You can feel it push
in your step on the path, heartbeat,
the drum of rain on the lead roof.
The red ball rises, falls, on its tower
at one o’ clock. It gave time
to those who had no clocks
sent time out to the river, to ships
that could at least know when they started.
In the quiet monastic rooms
the astronomers did hand-to-hand combat
with the universe, night after night
measuring, recording the myriad working
of the cosmic clock.
Flamsteed did thirty thousand
observations. Until he had it in all
its wayward precision.
The place throngs with clocks, chronometers,
sundials, beating and keeping time.
Downstairs, three great clocks
sail like brass galleons into the future,
round weights rocking on their arms.
And one big watch. The last, right answer.
Round and perfect as the moon.