Jeri McCormick

The Hiding Place

Why not the great walnut chifforobe
sparsely hung with widow’s dresses?
Why not the massive sideboard
replete with drawers, shelves and bins?
We all knew Great Grandma’s secret,

even the children, though none of us
could say why she’d chosen the clock.
She’d been reaching into that chiming
wooden case for years, ever since
the Depression’s bleak wrenching

that left her husband dead and her life
reset across the Cumberlands
where she’d come to lend a hand
in bringing up her daughter’s brood.
No one doubted her medicinal need,

but wasn’t the clock a strange
repository for whiskey? Fifty years
after her death I try to calibrate
an answer. Perhaps she was drawn
to the classic Roman numerals,

the pendulum’s rhythmic swing—
history and craftsmanship in balance;
perhaps it was the melodic tone
resonating with dearly-held times
she’d spent with Morgan

who’d bought her the timepiece
during their years together
in North Carolina. Just a swig
from its cabinet would ease harried days
among teetotalers in the hinterlands

of Kentucky; it would rewind memories
she could not bear to lose. A boost
from the clock’s heart-pulse
would jump-start a survivor’s resolve,
keep old dreams from ticking away.

-first appeared in Kalliope, Vol XXVI, No. 1