Joan Sutherland as Olympia in Offenbach's Les Contes D'Hoffmann, photograph from the Richard Bonynge Collection
In my childhood jewelry box, among the broken charm bracelets; necklaces without clasps; belt buckles; clip-on earrings with sockets that once contained stones; brass buttons decorated with anchors; Indian bangles; beads made of shell, wood and coral, and a blackened silver pendant studded with amethysts, I find my great-grandmother's rose gold watch. I set it to my time, rolling its hands clockwise around its face. I wind it and hold it to my good ear: it ticks like a creaking whale-bone corset. I hear my great-grandmother buttoning her boots.