Patrick Donnelly

Last Watch

Without my knowing, the clasp opened

on the subway platform, a clatter on the tiles

I only hear in retrospect, and now

someone else must be enjoying

my watch with its Navajo turquoise,

much admired by friends,

by my doctor of ten years,

who is ill himself now, and takes no calls.


Was it trying to escape, all along?

It went through the wash twice;

had to be fitted with new hands,

which kept coming unstuck.

And once, from a nightstand,

leapt out an attic dormer and lay with leaves

in the gutter for days, till painters found it.

Or was it struggling to stay, but finally unable?


Where the watch used to be, my wrist is pale,

my pulse flooding and scattered.

This is how the dictionary defines caducous:

“deciduous, as of leaves, dropping off very early,

subject to shedding, destined to fall.”




“Last Watch” is from The Charge (Ausable Press, 2003).