Taut, industrious little drum
tensed in the hollow of my wrist,
beating alert beneath my thumb,
nature ordains that you persist.
Even when sleep has swaddled half
the world and me with unconcern,
taps of your jungle telegraph
attend the planet's somber turn.
What's it about? The steady throb
of traffic through your narrow sluice,
a rich monotony your job
of marking time must reproduce.
On the canal around the clock
you signal with your brisk tattoo
the level reached within the lock,
drumming the vital cargo through.
That ebb and flow that you denote
returns in circles to its source;
and I, no rebel yet to rote,
am pleased to leave it to its course,
and pleased to make your paces mine,
once more to the pump and back.
Your sudden halt will be the sign
that I have left the beaten track.