The click of the sundial

“It is possible to be struck by a
meteor or a single-engine plane while
reading in a chair at home. Pedestrians
are flattened by safes falling from
rooftops mostly within the panels of
the comics, but still, we know it is
possible, as well as the flash of
summer lightning, the thermos toppling
over, spilling out on the grass.
And we know the message can be
delivered from within. The heart, no
valentine, decides to quit after
lunch, the power shut off like a
switch, or a tiny dark ship is
unmoored into the flow of the body’s
rivers, the brain a monastery,
defenseless on the shore. This is
what I think about when I shovel
compost into a wheelbarrow, and when
I fill the long flower boxes, then
press into rows the limp roots of red
impatiens — the instant hand of Death
always ready to burst forth from the
sleeve of his voluminous cloak. Then
the soil is full of marvels, bits of
leaf like flakes off a fresco,
red-brown pine needles, a beetle quick
to burrow back under the loam. Then
the wheelbarrow is a wilder blue, the
clouds a brighter white, and all I
hear is the rasp of the steel edge
against a round stone, the small
plants singing with lifted faces, and
the click of the sundial as one hour
sweeps into the next.”

~ Billy Collins
picnic and storm

2 thoughts on “The click of the sundial

  1. Bill, normally I do not respond to these words of wisdom, but for some reason today’s reminded me of Joe Amato, history professor at SWSU in Marshall. Exactly the way he thinks. In meantim, hope you and family are doing well. I’m suffering from the crud, and in addition have partial tear in my right achilles tendon so have to wear walking boot 24 hours per/day for next six weeks and am not allowed to do any exercise, other than upper body, and can’t even go into the pool, spa or drive. Boring!! In the meantime, hope you and Linda and family are doing well, joe

    1. Joe, sorry to hear about the achilles problem. I know from personal experience that is very painful and slow in healing. You must be frustrated in that you are one that exercises 20 out of 24 hours a day or it seems like it.

      I do remember Joe Amato well and was always impressed by his energy level and unending curiosity about life. I did find his personal web site today and wanted to share it with you. Check out

      Take care my friend and say hello to Jo.


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