War Story

oh clock-

they found you
they did in the basement of
an old woman's house. you
were scarred, yes, with
the smudged commas of ash
about your face
and also the handprint of an englishman who was
a few thousand feet above you
and had a son at home
and loved flying a plane
and did not know the old woman
who had
a son as well staring at the underside
of a tin can in
russia somewhere in russia

and they found
you when the russians came
the large
russians with their large coats and large
boots like
storybook russians
with a cartridge, the one who found you,
between his teeth and
he had two daughters who were
lying now
in the earth about smolensk
and he had braided their
hair when the
oak leaves fell downward hell's own precipitation
and his wife
was dead
too but long before the war
she had died

and this large russian found you in
the old woman's basement. he laughed
and when he laughed
he was sobbing and he was
sobbing because when he
picked you up out of the ash you were still working. still
working

and measuring and the old woman
had a photograph on the mantle that was
scorched to the bare earth about
the floor

and years later
the clock struck
late at night. and chimed.
would not stop. it was in February when the english were shoveling snow from their walks and the clock would not stop chiming that February and the
old russian
shot it.