“In Time”

by Robert Miltner

In his west side Cleveland neighborhood, my grandfather set his pocket watch to the bells at Saint Ignatius Church.  Those who couldn’t afford a time piece listened, took good note.

In London, Big Ben was the time clock the English punched as they constructed the British Empire: quarter past, half past, quarter till, hour: the Christian soldiers’ music box ticked.

In the factories, foundries, and fields, where the laborers’ sweat worked the clepsydra, there were never more than three times that mattered: starting time, break time, and quitting time.

In order to know where we have to be, and when, we glance at the digital dash clock, the CD player, the bank marquee, the ATM machine, the cellular phone.

In the alleys downtown, when the churches ring their great cast bells, they echo through the parking garage, along the curbs, the sound against the brick and glass of empty offices amplified

In unison, a dozen pigeons will rise, swirl, turning like  hands on a watch, coloring gray to black, then arrive on the church’s slate roof, settling like the numbers on a clock face.

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