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Breaking the Clock by Thomas McColl

Arts Richmond

Online - 01 September 2020

Breaking the Clock by Thomas McColl

Just as Mum breaking a ruler

in half across my back


didn’t in any way stop

30 centimetres

from still being 30 centimetres,


me breaking the clock

(which just so happened to be

the family heirloom on the mantelpiece 

that Mum had told me never to touch),


by turning back the second hand

(then, as I stood on tiptoe

to keep on doing it,

snapping it off),


couldn’t, of course,

stop time

from still being time.


How was I to know,

aged six,

that standing on tiptoe was me attempting

to grow up too fast?


But that was what I did,

and time couldn’t have that,

so it straightaway grabbed me

by the scruff of the neck

and frogmarched me,

with a steady step,

to the moment

when Mum tried,

in vain,

to stop me

growing up any more

by breaking the ruler across my back.


from ABOUT TIME, the 2019 anthology of shortlisted entries from The Roger McGough Poetry Prize. Copies of this Anthology can be purchased for £5 including P&P from Arts Richmond.


Breaking the Clock by Thomas McColl

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