Split Second

Watchmaker Jacob Lawrence, 1946

Into the split second where the gear’s teeth will engage,
a man peers, head tilted, eyepiece wedged against gravity’s claim

Arm on a ledge of air, his fingers with tiny tools mend time
Look who’s waiting: Cupid on a table-clock’s brass bell

arched back, arrowless bowstring pulled taut
Nude stretched on a tangerine sun, hour hand mired in dusk.

On the wall behind intent’s blue-stripe shoulders, a dead 1:22,
jittering 7:10, paralyzed ticktock swinging on a wristband

Mouth to the watchmaker’s earless ear
the 11:45 waits to start counting

The hand in his hand stutters. His work is working on time.