new zealand electronic poetry centre

Jenny Bornholdt



The Watch

Originally published in ‘From the Album,’ Moving House (Victoria UP, 1989): 45-46.


The watch I carry in my pocket was my father’s. A gift on his 21 st birthday. It is a big-faced solid watch – ROAMER, 17 JEWELS, SWISS MADE, SUPER-SHOCK. The even numbers are very round and in place of the odd numbers are the shapes of slender arrow heads.

In the photographs this watch accompanies my father through his life. In the wedding picture of him and my mother I can see the winder edging out from under the sleeve of his dark suit. My mother’s hand rests on his arm. Holding on to his other arm is his mother. To their right stands my grandfather – in the window behind there is a woman’s hat and it looks as if it has just blown off his head. I realise that all the people in the photograph – except for my mother and father – are now dead. My two grandmothers, my grandfather and two smiling young men.  

The watch is solid on his wrist as my father holds me – a tiny child almost covered over by his big hands. It is there as he balances my sister Jane on his shoulders and again as he holds Wendy against his knees.

This watch is my father as a young man still new to the world. Now he has a new watch and I have this old one. I carry in my pocket my father aged 21, his lean face ticking through the years.  


 This extract also appeared in My Father and Me: New Zealand Women Remember,
ed. Penelope Hansen (Auckland: Tandem Press, 1992): 253.

Jenny Bornholdt

Last updated 16 February, 2005