Broken Trophy · Richard Fein

Grandpa won it for boxing,
when Irish, Italian, and Jewish palookas would swagger to the ring
and climb the ropes hoping to rise above the ghetto.
That gold pocket watch was a brilliant accessory for a high-class suit,
but grandpa never could afford to wear one.

I was seven when he called me over and said he would bequeath it to me.
He was always so proud of his fancy words.
He smiled, patted my head and said,
"When the great referee counts ten, when the bell clangs ending the last round."
Soon after ten was counted with no loud bells to mark the finish.
But he was buried in an upscale suit.

It's been decades. The watch spills out of the shoebox.
The minute hand sways loosely then falls off the center pin,
and the hour hand quickly follows.
The hands rattle around the circle of time.
The broken trophy is still worth its ounces in gold.
But the price of those ounces varies hourly,
and I have no way to track the hours now, even if I wanted to.

I imagine grandpa's smile in the blank watch face.
I see my reflection in the crystal cover of the timeless timepiece,
and for a second I'm heedless
of the relentless march of minutes and hours,
even if no hand points the way.