The story we learned from the Weekly Reader as children
was tabloid bluster. There were no mobs, no riots,
no shouting about the theft of eleven days.
Nothing was really lost; they understood that.

The almanacs and newspapers of the time
show us how clear and orderly it was:
The reader will observe, that the day which follows
the second of this month is placed as the 14th,
and is to be so esteemed.

                                                All very simple.
Essays had run in The Gentlemen's Magazine.
Chesterfield had stood in the House of Lords
on March 18th, 1751,
and talked of science, commerce, the practical need
to deal with the rest of the world now, to move on.
Not even a nod to the past, the dangerous passions.

And all has been calm since then, all science and order.
We fall in line with the cosmos, leap-seconds added
or taken away. Our machines adjust in silence,

although we might, as we scrawl a date on a check
or stand at a sink and hear the radio speak it
(the month an ancient god, the mystical number)
still feel the murmurings of an old unrest.

Copyright © 2010, Maryann Corbett

Prague Astronomical Clock/Prazsky orloj

Image Credit: magro_kr, some rights reserved

Maryann Corbett is the author of two chapbooks, Dissonance (just out from Scienter Press) and Gardening in a Time of War (Pudding House, 2007), and a winner of the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize and the Lyric Memorial Prize. Her poems, essays, and translations have appeared or will appear in River Styx, Atlanta Review, The Evansville Review, Poetry East, Water~Stone Review, The Chimaera, Umbrella, and many other journals in print and online.