The Clock Key
by Yvonne Higgins Leach

First it was Dad. Then Mom
passed. We divided up their possessions
diplomatically among the five of us.
Among them, two antique, wind-up wall clocks,
and a nine-foot tall Hamilton Grandfather from Pennsylvania.
Years later, my sister finds
a small brass key
in a tattered, two-inch, yellow envelope
in my mother’s jewelry box.
In cursive, my mother wrote: Clock Key.
So my sister makes the rounds with it,
an excuse for a visit,
but none of us want to try it
because we like that somehow
our clocks keep ticking ahead, regardless.

SOURCE: “The Clock Key” first appeared in Common Ground Review.

IMAGE: “Clock with a Blue Wing” by Marc Chagall (1949).

Higgins Leach

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: After both our parents died, we divided up their possessions among the five of us siblings. Three of us ended up with clocks but without the keys to keep rewinding them. The strange thing was our clocks kept ticking regardless. My sister found a key by accident years later and made visits to those of us with the clocks to see if the key fit. Each of us was hesitant to try the key being enthralled by the current “magic” that was occurring.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is the five of us siblings at a ceremony honoring our mother in Spokane, Washington, in July 2014. From left to right: Tim, Dan, Maureen — who found the key — Curran, and me (Yvonne).


Yvonne Higgins Leach
is the author of Another Autumn (WordTech Editions, 2014). Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies. A native of Washington state, she earned a Master of Fine Arts from Eastern Washington University. She spent decades balancing a career in communications and public relations, raising a family, and pursuing her love of writing poetry. Now a full-time poet, she splits her time living on Vashon Island and in Spokane, Washington. For more information, visit