A decade ago, the clock stopped
at a quarter to seven;
no one had since bothered to repair it.
The clock tower was old,
like the half-blind maintenance man
all but incapable of a feat
such as fixing a long-stopped clock
on a towering steeple.
The once-proud church stood humbly
in the midst of a bustling business district,
the congregation itself
on the verge of shutting its doors,
its whitewashed walls the only remnant
of a time when church-blood
flowed thick and ruby-toned,
coffers filled nearly to overflowing —
a time when the minutes hand
and the hours hand
had spun day in and day out,
moving round the clock-face
like two lovers dancing the cha-cha.
On weekday mornings,
mothers herded schoolchildren
onto the seven-fifteen school bus.
Five days a week, the driver arrived on time,
in sunshine, rain, snow or sleet.
The clock-face, a half-hour behind as usual,
stood as mute witness to his punctuality.
In a café across the street,
a room with gilded walls overlooked
the church and its frozen clock-face.
On their lunch hour,
worker bees ate cucumber sandwiches
and sipped lattes,
occasionally glancing out the window,
then down at their watches
to see how far off the clock face was this time.
Tow truck drivers cleared empty streets
on bone-chilling winter nights,
the clatter of steel again concrete
audible over blaring stereos.
Drivers glanced up at the clock-face,
stuck in time at a quarter to seven,
now and always.
Nobody seemed to remember the moment when
the arms on the clock-face had slowed to a standstill,
never to regain movement
till either the building crumbled
or the maintenance man got his act together.
In fifteen minutes,
church bells might chime seven times,
but fifteen minutes could take a decade,
Gina Marie Lazar is a Philadelphia-based writer/artist. Her work has appeared in Pirene’s Fountain, The Buddhist Poetry Review, and AfterDark Online. She was recently selected as Featured Artist for the Winter ’13 issue of Fringe Magazine.