Laura Theis

the clockmaker’s daughter

I never knew my mother

almost dropped out of clockmaking

school when she had to admit to herself

there was something tick-ticking inside her:

something she had made not by squinting

through microscopes and careful attention to detail but instead

by neglect and forgetfulness (qualities they do not encourage

at the horological institute)

foxing her tutors with flowy dresses and ponchos

she stayed on and half a year later gave birth

to me right on the due date because

I was always going to be a punctual baby


and the first time she saw my round flat face

she smiled with relief: she knew just how to read me

she hummed along to the song of my cogs and gears

as she carried me into her workshop then

propped me against the wall between her assortment

of die plates and steel files and calipers

she worked late into the night furbishing my most important parts

with a small bow-lathe until she had polished me into

something she would not be ashamed to hand in as her

final assignment: an elaborate device with a steady heartbeat

the kind a room would feel empty without

a freestanding marvel with two hands and a mouth


for telling the truth of time



Laura Theis is the winner the 2020 Brian Dempsey Memorial Pamphlet Competition, the £10,000 Mogford Short Story Prize, the Hammond House International Literary Award and she was highly commended in the 2020 Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize and the 2020 Acumen Poetry Competition.
Having grown up in Germany and writing in her second language, her writing has been published in the UK, as well as in Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Canada, and the U.S. It appears in Strange Horizons, Abyss & Apex, and Mslexia amongst many others. Her debut chapbook is forthcoming with Dempsey & Windle.

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