Each day that summer as I walked home from concentrated classes at the University (Early Modern Philosophy: Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Hume, Berkeley all in six weeks), I would wave to an old woman who sat on the porch of her disheveled house drinking coffee, I assumed. Each day for a couple of seconds, we would affirm each other’s existence in the other’s life. One day she called out to me, she wanted my help with something. I hesitated — for I had places to go, people to meet all afternoon. I was afraid she would take more time than I had to give. After I negotiated her neglected front lawn, she held out an old alarm clock, “It’s broken,” she said, “I don’t know what the time is anymore.” I took the clock from her crumpled hands, turned the key a few times, and it started to tick loudly. She thanked me, and I went on my way. The next day and the day after that for the rest of the summer, I never saw her again. Although, now and then, for the last forty years, I think of her, her clock, and the time she took that day.

(September 5, 2022)

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