top of page

Anna Leahy

A Doctrine of Clock

The woman’s body clocks her. Life’s a story problem, so she paces. She can’t decide whether she’s
rushing at the forthcoming or it’s rushing at her. That decision periodically lays waste, and she ends
up counting. Everything can’t happen at once, and the idea of epoch frustrates her. Fertility (1) is one of
many chicken-and-egg dilemmas. Her dog shakes its tail twice.


Wait just a minute for all eternity. Jot an instant on the calendar. She needs to be at least half his age
plus seven. (
2) Her fertility (3) will halve itself in a decade. She’s a chronometer; she will not be moved by


1 Since 1975, the birth rate among women under thirty has bent from expectations. Those over thirty doubled down on the double,

bet double or nothing, risked double or quits. Who’s story am I unraveling?

2 When the moon is blue, selection of a mate works in only one direction. She’s playing a losing game. She loses for winning. If

medians are for marriage, how long does it take to traverse that center line? For men, factor in a never-married penalty.

A median can be mean.

3 Motherhood is a matter of quantum (number) and tempo (time). Which bodies do we try to repeat | replace? Which bodies are

outnumbered | out of time | out of tune | tuned out | out of luck | out of line | lined up?

Anna Leahy

Anna Leahy is the author of the poetry collections Aperture and Constituents of Matter and the nonfiction book Tumor. Her poems appear widely, and her essays won the top awards from the Los Angeles Review, Ninth Letter and Dogwood. She directs the MFA program in Creative Writing at Chapman University, where she edits the international poetry journal TAB. See more at

bottom of page