All Emma, In Everything

by Jamison Koehler on November 30, 2012

I am standing with my niece in front of my father’s bureau, and I show her the gold-plated watch with the “Hamilton” typed out across its face.  My father loved pocket watches and there are a couple of them still sitting on his bureau so it takes me a moment to find the right one.  The watch I select is cool against my palm, and surprisingly heavy. “Do you know the significance of this one?” I ask her.

She is planning to write her senior thesis on my father’s poetry, and has asked my mother for permission to go through the papers which, destined for the Renaissance Center at the University of Massachusetts, still sit in boxes piled up in his study and out in the garage.

Hearing this, I take her immediately into my parents’ bedroom to show her the gold watch.  “No, I don’t,” she says.  “Should I?”

We get better with every generation.

I have known this beautiful young woman since she was born, arriving at the hospital in Baltimore within hours of her birth. Although she was ultra-feminine as a little girl, fastidious about her things, perhaps even a little prissy, she has turned into a first-class soccer player who not only knows how to take a joke but also how to deliver one.

She was the valedictorian of her high school class, and captain and leading scorer on her college soccer team.  She is an All-Ivy scholar and an All-Ivy athlete, at once smart, pretty, personable, and modest.  And when I hear about her senior thesis plans, I can’t help thinking that there couldn’t be a greater tribute to my father, nor anything more flattering to the rest of his family.

That’s why I show her the watch and then set it down on the bureau, carefully now, as he would have done, because I wouldn’t want to scratch it.

Another Time

The note from Newman’s said

it needed cleaning,

but I wind it and it goes.

Its hands with delicate gesture pointing

like vanes around the face resume

an hour of your life.


Sunlight in the room

and memories,  clear

as water.  In the mirror as you lean

to tie your tie I see

the Hamilton on its gold chain.

Ten after eight:


initials on the knife, reversed.

Where you stood on the rug

it wears. I say my name

and hang your picture to remind me.

Another time; your breath

unclouding in the glass.


© G. Stanley Koehler

4 Comments on “All Emma, In Everything

  1. I realize I’m going off on a tangent here, but what kind of Hamilton watch was that? They’ve had some famous ones.

  2. Draughn:

    I wish I knew but I can’t tell you — the watch is up in Massachusetts.

  3. I thought that’s where you went to college, Jamie!

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