Poem of the Week, by Marjorie Saiser

An old plastic solar-powered calculator is one of my most precious belongings. It adds and subtracts and divides and multiplies and I use it all the time. My calculator lives in my travel backpack when I’m on the road, along with its cousins the extra charger, the UBS converter, the external battery, the spare sunglasses, and tiny packets of salt (judge not).

The calculator was a gift from my dad. Many years ago I watched him bent over the kitchen table adding up bills, and I admired its simplicity and lack of batteries and he pushed it across the table to me. “You can have it!” he said in his trademark bellow. “I’ve got another!”

The mother and narrator in this beautiful poem remind me of my father and me.

She Gives Me the Watch off Her Arm, by Marjorie Saiser

my mother wants me to
go to college

the closest she has ever been
is this
the dorm

her father had needed her
to dig the potatoes
and load them into burlap bags

but here she is
leaving her daughter

on the campus in the city
time to go
we are at the desk
the clerk is wide-

eyed when my mother
asks her if she will
take an out-of-town check

if the need arises
if something comes up
so my girl will have money

even I know
this isn’t going to happen
this check-cashing

a clerk helping me with money
but miracle of miracles
the clerk says nothing

and I say nothing
and my mother feels better
we go to the parking lot

old glasses thick graying hair
she is wearing a man’s shirt
has to get back to the job

we stand beside her Ford and it is
here she undoes the buckle of the watch
and holds it out to me

my father’s watch
keeping good time for him
and then for her

she says she knows I will
need a watch to get to class
we hug and she gets in

starts the car
eases into traffic
no wave

the metal of the back of the watch

is smooth to my thumb
and it keeps for a moment
a warmth from her skin.

Click here for more information about Marjorie Saiser.


Words by Winter: my podcast


  1. mbarrette15outlookcom · July 16

    Dear Alison,

    Beautiful feel good stories of handoffs of precious heirlooms.

    You have a way of telling the most simple moments of life such as an unexpected gift from your dad that later becomes a precious item you carry everywhere so you can recall the initial handoff but more importantly the love you have for your dad.

    You bring it along your travel not really to calculate things but as a reminder of that moment when your dad was paying the bills, raising a family , and saying to you , in a way, “you go on and have your own family and carry on the tradition”. I have a feeling that the calculator will one day be handed over like the watch in the beautiful poem you shared with us.

    Just know that your weekly post is your contribution to humanity in that for a brief moment, you take us somewhere that removes us from the true madness of the world we live in. It is your “disruption” of their madness that helps us keep going. Human are capable of the most horrendous deeds but also have the capacity to create the most beautiful work of art in all of its representation.

    Love you dearly mon amie

    Liked by 1 person

    • alisonmcghee · July 22

      Mario, you are one of the kindest people I have ever known. You give me hope for the world and I’m so glad to be your friend. XOXO


  2. Lady Shamla Rose · July 17

    Beloved beautiful Alison McGhee

    My heart and soul are divinely grateful to you.

    *You have made my Sunday July 17th 2022 extraordinarily beautiful.

    I read the divine Ms Marjorie Saiser’s poem and felt it poignant.

    Then I clicked onto the site where I got to see her and listen to her
    read her poem. She experienced that same poignancy again.*

    *I am filled with divine feelings, rainbows of them.

    Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

    In love, with love, for love
    Shamla of Shamballa

    Liked by 1 person

  3. alisonmcghee · July 22

    Dear Shamla, I so appreciate your warmth and joy. And the way you sign off – so beautiful. XO


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