The Clock, a poem by Hannah Semmes
Had I known you wouldn’t be here with me, I would have woken up for that brunch. I would have gone on that hike, I would have played that prank. I would have skipped that interview, I would have gone to the party. I would have visited you when you were sick, I would have stayed the night.
Had I known our semester would vanish, I would have walked slowly. I would have walked slowly out of the classroom, wrestling Rousseau with my professor. I would have walked slowly to class, hiding my headphones to say hello to my first-year hallmate who just passed by. I would have walked right up to him, head-held-high, and asked for his number. I would have walked with you.
Had I known I’d never walk with you again, I would have walked slowly. Had I walked slowly, had I lifted my gaze from the ground, maybe I would have noticed the clock at the top of the Rotunda. Maybe I would have noticed the brilliant spring sun bouncing off that black and gold eye, holding watch over the University. As generations have hurried under-head, its hands keep turning unnoticed.
Had I slowed to look, I would have noticed a pattern upon Jefferson’s pediment. How strange it is that when we stare, the clock hands seem to hold time still. Yet when we forget to watch, the hands reel ahead and steal away our favorite seconds.
Had I known that conversation would be our last, I would have told you how much I loved you. Had I known that hug would be how I remembered you, I would have held on.
Time flies and people hurry, but memories seem to stroll along. The memories I hold of you stroll slowly across my mind without direction. We’ve learned and lived so much these last four years. But now the clock is up. Had I been watching time as it had been watching me, I would have strolled with you, like our memories.
Frank Batten School of Leadership & Public Policy, Class of 2020
University of Virginia