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Laura Cochlin

©2006Cochlin reading

The Continuous Rhythm of Clocks

Choirs of birds brighten the sky,
Morning papers thud against front doors,
A lone jogger's shoes slap the pavement.

Rooms await the light.
Stillness occupies the space,
except for the continuous rhythm of clocks.

Content and safe, curled in bed.
Will mountains delay the journey?
Will winds fill the sails?

Eyes wide, I
Stretch my mind
to welcome the world


The Missing Author

Summer. 1969. Men landed on the moon, and the Lee family landed in Boston. My dad was attending Boston College to earn his Master’s Degree, and we tagged along so he wouldn’t be lonely. I was 10, my brother was 8, and my two sisters were 6 and 4.

The astronauts were exploring a new frontier, and so were we. We rented a single family home we had never seen before in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Upon arrival, mom’s eyes filled with tears.

Scraggly-looking old men that had a difficult time walking a straight line occupied a little park next to the house where we would be staying. I watched them examine the insides of the garbage cans that were scattered throughout the park. I wondered what lurked inside the cans that could be so interesting. We were told to stay away from the park.

A two-story apartment building was located on the other side of the house. It had cracked windows, and the outside door frames, which were missing the glass, hung off their hinges. Dirty, broken toys were strewn in the parking area, and small children ran around in their underwear. I thought they had never been exposed to a bathtub or a shower. Mom wanted us to stay away from there too, but that’s where the other kids lived.

One day, I finally got permission to go inside to play at the neighbors. My eyes had to adjust to the darkness before I could walk up the stairs to my friend’s apartment. I got a whiff of a mixture of bacon and cigarette smoke. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold my breath for the amount of time I would be spending in the building, so I decided to breathe through my mouth instead. Trying to avoid toys and broken glass, I climbed the narrow, wooden stairway to the top. Behind one door I could hear the drone of a tv. The sounds of dogs barking, babies crying, and people arguing emerged from other doorways. I entered my friend’s apartment and stayed long enough to suggest we play outside.

The redeeming part of this neighborhood was the library across the street. The modern-looking building was covered in red brick. It reminded me of a new penny. When I walked in, I would take a deep breath. The smell of new books filled the air. These books were lined up on the shelves in perfect order, just waiting to be someone’s friend. The women that worked there always greeted me with a big smile. They would ask me questions about school and my friends in Iowa. They always seemed to have time to listen to my stories.

I spent so much time at the library I got put to work shelving books. I didn’t mind though; I felt very important having this job. When the time came to return to Iowa, I received a certificate declaring that I was now a Junior Librarian. Many times while putting books on the shelves, I thought that some day, something I wrote would end up on one of these shelves.

My mom and dad scrubbed and scoured to make the house we lived in comfortable. I got to choose my own room. Located in an upper corner of the house I found a bedroom, about the size of a walk-in closet. Nothing else could fit in this room except a bed, which had one of its corners being held up with bricks, and a small dresser. I spent more time in this room than I normally would have due to the conditions outside our front door. I felt safe in this private corner of the house where I could go to be alone.

What did I do while I was in my room? I read and I wrote. I had brought a notebook with me and I went to work on my “first novel,” which I imagined would find its way onto the shelves of a library. I do not remember what the story was about. I do remember that the main character was a girl; I also included horses, (I loved horses), but that’s all I remember. I wish I knew what happened to that notebook. I wish I knew what happened to that author.