The Horologist (Mick Jenkinson)
I’ll tell you about time
You see enough, you come to understand
how shallow the conceit
that one might influence the falling sand
The tiresome tick and tock
my patience never tested so before
The plague’s relentless mock
beat us till we in blind obeisance swore
I need to clean my hands
This work requires a sterile atmosphere
Should you wish to observe
then do the same before you enter here
Bring me your broken clock
chronometer or clepsydra to mend
This is my element
a steady eye and yet more steady hand
I’ll show you whole worlds
within the shifting gears of this chablon
but out beyond these walls
could you be sure that life and love go on?
And though time finds its voice
from pockets, mantle pieces and bell towers
now clocks can only serve –
each timepiece striking off life’s hollow hours
When all of this is done
would you meet me by the meridian?
We’ll take a quiet turn
I’ll tell you of the great John Harrison
Ice Cream Man (Anthony Wilson)
I pass the cones across the shelf,
planting them like light bulbs
in their fists, livid blue bubble gum,
squat tubs of ripple,
coffee and walnut tasting of nothing.
Tourists, mostly, even in winter,
detouring south to the beach
we aren’t famous for
before heading to the hills
where at least the ice is real.
Or these schoolkids and their mams
for their three-thirty rush,
tips slimmer than I used to be,
hips held in by elastic
that never sees a gym.
I wipe things down and see it shine
between indecisive anoraks.
I never pretend to smile.
I have worn this badge so long
I have forgotten my own name.
Jigsaw puzzle designer. (Di Slaney)
When this is all over, said the jigsaw puzzle designer, I’ll stop looking for identical blue bits and dark shadowed edges with the faintest hint of grey. I’ll abandon beige for the rest of my life, seek out the single bright stem, the gimlet leaf, leave overblossomed branches for someone else to fret over. I’ll take a long flight somewhere warm and as we pass over the sea, I’ll stop noticing puffs of wavecrest as differentials, and take a merlot without matching it to the headrest. When the scented woman next to me asks what I do, I’ll look at my blunt, practical hands and say “Carpet fitter”. I have transferable skills.
Jack-of-all-trades Di Slaney)
When this is all over, said the jack-of-all-trades,
I will focus on doing one job really well.
No more of this fixing, mending, bending,
up-ending, tapping, wrapping, brushing,
rushing, slushing, plunging, de-gunging,
wiring, re-firing, all in one day.
I will be full fat perfection
in my niche, I won’t spread
the toasty burns shine through,
I won’t be busted for my lack
of quals or certs. I will master
my destiny, choose my path, walk the walk
and talk – well, I’ve always been good at that