He’s inside the clock in the airport. Only the hour hand is painted in. The man dips his brush in the paint can and traces a long black line, uniting the center of the clock with the figure 12. Now the clock has a minute hand.
He’s tall and handsome, although I can’t see his face. He cleans the glass surface with
a squeegee. Oblivious to all the passengers, he bends and washes a rag in the bucket.
Up again, he wipes off the black minute hand he just painted. The passengers look at each other: what is this guy doing inside the clock? And why did he wipe off the minute hand?
The man washes the rag in the bucket. If you ever wonder where does time go, well, let me tell you: it’s in the white bucket. He notices a spec left on the clock’s surface and cleans it up with his sleeve. Unhurried, he loads his brush with black paint and slowly paints a new long line from the center to the right of the figure 12. It’s one minute after 12.
The passengers are captivated. He ignores everyone and makes sure the black minute hand is perfect, with no wavy edges. He’s taking his time—he’s a perfectionist, that’s why. Then, with quick moves, he wipes the line with the squeegee. What happened? It wasn’t straight enough? What a waste of time. The man next to me returns to his paper, mumbling.
I get up and circle behind the huge clock. No one is there. There is no stair, no door.
The clock is so thin no one could fit inside. Back in the waiting room, I take my seat and look up: there he is, absorbed in his task, painting another minute.
Claudia Serea’s poems and translations have appeared in Field, New Letters, 5 a.m., Meridian, Word Riot, Apple Valley Review, among others. She is the author of Angels & Beasts (Phoenicia Publishing, Canada, 2012), A Dirt Road Hangs From the Sky (8th House Publishing, Canada, 2013), To Part Is to Die a Little (Cervena Barva Press, 2015) and Nothing Important Happened Today (Broadstone Books, 2016). Serea co-hosts The Williams Readings poetry series in Rutherford, NJ, and she is a founding editor of National Translation Month