Rust

 

Take time with me to ponder this.

 

A weary wanderer upon an empty shore

braced by the breeze that comes in from the sea

looks down and sees a watch upon the sand.

 

What does he think?

 

Perhaps “What luck!  I’m having that”.

 

But no.  Let us assume

he has a questioning mind.

He studies curiously the watch’s face;

It is predictably familiar for it’s a face

he’s looked at several times a day

for many years.

The hands suggest to him the hand of man.

But more than that, he thinks for sure

that watch was made, as well as worn, by man,

most probably a watch-maker. Oh, yes.

 

The watch is magic and can speak.

(Just humour me.)

It gives our beach-comber the gift of time.

Now he is blessed with immortality

but, as is common in such tales,

the watch imposes one condition.

If he should ever wish to leave the beach,

he must perform one simple task -

to deconstruct the watch 

and put it back together.

 

He takes the watch apart most carefully,

undoing every tiny screw, releasing every spring,

which he can do

for happily he never wanders on the beach

without his trusty penknife

with its many useful tools,

including a small screwdriver,

much favoured by the army of the Swiss.

 

He holds a hundred different pieces in his hand.

He’s careful not to drop even the smallest part.

He’s made a mental note of every step

that he will need to put the watch together

for he is very keen he should not spend

eternity upon this windswept, lonely beach.

 

 

 

“There’s one more thing,” the watch’s voice declares,

(the watch itself no longer being a coherent whole

and capable of speech).

“To make the watch once more a working timepiece,

all you can do is toss the pieces in the air

and hope they come together as before.”

 

“Don’t be ridiculous!” declares our friend. 

“You know that can’t be done.”

 

The watch’s voice seems somewhat hurt.

“It’s not impossible” the voice insists,

“for that is how I came to be.

Sure, it took time

but, making you immortal,

allows you time enough.”

 

“What makes you think that you were made

by tossing bits and pieces in the air?”

asks our immortal comber of the beach.

“Who made the bits and pieces that were tossed?

Who did the tossing?

And who the hell would want a watch,

except a man who needs to tell the time?

 

“Look, I don’t make the rules”, the watch’s voice replies.

“You want to master time and live for ever,

take my advice.  Start tossing.”

 

The man now shrugs and shakes his head.

“I don’t have time for this,” he says

and throws the hundred pieces

into the waves that lap the lonely beach.

 

The waves roll back and forth.

And lo!

the pieces of the watch

rust.