The day the letterbox ate the painted rose on my mother’s antique watch


Mum received a present from her parents

after their first big trip overseas when she was ten

and stuck in boarding school. A windup

Swiss watch that fits my wrist with painted roses—

six altogether—watch-face smaller

than a five cent piece. I only wear it

on special occasions—weddings, concerts,

poetry performances.


One evening before going to the theatre, I put my hand

in the square letterbox to retrieve the letters—

unthinking. I draw my hand out, metal scapes

against the painted watch and in an instant

after five decades of care—a rose

is missing.


I keep the watch hidden from Mum for three years

until I show her this poem. She says:

‘these things happen. It’s five decades old’.

My relief is as wonderful as discovering

the Japanese art form of Kintsugi—

where powdered gold is history’s brushstroke,

melding cracks in broken pottery.

And I realise the watchband’s gold now shines

where the rose once was.


First exhibited in ‘These Frozen Moments’ sound installation at the Metro Arts Laneway, the Good Room, 2017