The spring they found the lump, Frank collected wind-up watches, learning the art of their repair
5 o’clock, the notes read, 2 cm from areola.
Frank held my wrist to his ear to hear the ticking.
The tension in winding the crown of a watch
is sudden—I tell you, the lump
we sat in the waiting room,
listening for my name to be called.
Frank checked his watch, worried
it had stopped. Twice,
he offered to get me water.
Inside the machine, my breast clamped,
arms about the machine’s casing,
fingers stretching past the wall
to Frank, scrolling through
the auction sites, looking for the broken lecoultre,
or a stout and sturdy tank missing its band,
the moon phase and its perpetual night,
the diver and its stuck bezel,
a cracked crystal,
the paused red second-hand.
The technician told me when
to hold my breath, the machine a movement
Frank, the night before,
had held gears in tweezers, placed serrated gold
in my palm. It wasn’t,
and I say this with confidence,
that he was trying to fix me;
the timing was coincidental.
We were in bed,
flanked by tables coated in watch parts,
their tools, resting on books on watch repair.
We lay there in silence,
his fine fingers touching my breast,
and because there wasn’t any ticking around us,
I was grateful
for this fractured sense of safety;
this absence of time.
Shevaun Brannigan’s work has appeared in such journals as Best New Poets, AGNI, and Slice. She is a recipient of a Barbara J. Deming Fund grant and holds an MFA from Bennington College.