Temps Perdu by William Doreski

The clock that leapt from the wall
to smash face-down on scuffed gray tile
when my seventh-grade teacher slammed
the door has always haunted me.

Pity warped hands waving at time
lapsed forever. Grieve for the glass crown
shattered into nasty little shards
we crunched underfoot with our Keds.

Our teacher, Mary Susan Davis,
kept her back to the wreckage.
She strode to the front of the room
and warned us our faces would look
as sad as that clock’s if we crossed
her path at too steep an angle.

The janitor dumpstered the clock
but after school I retrieved it,
bent the hands nearly straight and kept
the sorry white dial in storage
many years in my mother’s basement.

Cleaning out the house for sale
I found the white enamel clock
only slightly pitted with rust,
the black-rimmed case still intact.

Mary Susan in her seventies
still looked as shark-faced as ever,
so I dropped the clock on her front stoop
and crept away feeling guilty
and glad, one broken clock-smile
to flatter our mutual past.

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