"Like clockwork" - Yasmin Ahmad
tick by tock by quick tick by hurried tock,
its decibel perceptible
only to the cat and the dog.
The watch on the wrist tries to warn us,
tapping its tiny untiring beat
against the hesitant pulse of our blood;
the clock on the wall tocks on,
in defiance to the time-honoured tradition of
silence in the school hall.
We were not listening.
The body was doomed to stop
even before it started.
Death has a life of its own.
Time marches doggedly
to the cliff of its own end.
We were not listening;
deaf to the decay of the planets and the suns.
Stars were exploding and dying in the night.
We were making love;
We saw it happen in the garden;
to the trees and the pets,
and still we watched our own dying
with blinkered optimism
- “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” -
oh yes, and by the way,
also one day closer to the end of it.
And curiously, when it happens,
everyone is surprised.
Everyone is visibly moved.
Eyebrows are raised, eyes are lowered,
mouths open like unsuspecting clams,
Surprised, as if we had no knowledge of it,
as if it were a newcomer,
as if it were a sniper.
And when it’s over, everyone walks away,
lamenting the weather and the price of fish.
The grave is forgotten
sooner than it was remembered.
What wisdom descends when I pause to listen to death?
Except, my beloved’s eyes dance
when he tells me about his day,
and I must remember to kiss them
before they finally close."