We wanted Time the wound-dresser, but he lurked with a shiv in his sock teasing us from a dark corner, what is it now? of the hour. He bet by our faces, adding wouldn’t you like to know?
We were lying to know, nodding hard and he was anxious about maintaining the image of getting somewhere.
Space sucked her teeth, said I see you, but he needed his records and was always asking what we wanted to do. He meant to appreciate some facts of being here together, but needed an agenda to fill his reminders, warning this is what you need.
We lacked the right answers when he quizzed us but kept first-aid kits. He would demand these sometimes, just to check. We could be career knife-jugglers and not run out of gauze but then he caught us one day, with Hawking’s Brief History and insisted there was more to him than she thought. Meaning our mother.
I am not what they make me out to be, he insisted, pointing at her. I am no straight arrow, no line, and Space laughed, oh, we know, baby, we all know.
The owl came for flying lessons.
She followed, remembering snow,
purging minutes from herself until
gone and she shone, tuned to the ice-
bright noon, transparent with time,
carrying only what would not be
spoken into the coming
Take the long view, starting from any horizon where it gathers like rain. Then try a movement in time, leaving reason behind. Go from moment to moment to moment, but no bridges between them. Cellar doors will do, no stairs. This allows for the sudden drop from one to the next.
We move these tiny flames on sticks, and then wait. One sign is the flash of sunrise around the window. Another is a breath of letters flooding the veins, flowering tongues, chiming the ear.
These are useful reminders. Let go, syntax, let’s go. There are more ways to arrange a voice beyond the tired grooves of your worn paths. You can cut the ankles again on low thorns, catch webs in the mouth, know your face by the cheek kissing the cat tail, and forget the mirrors.
The bend of years is partial, a pockmarked continuum of dropped stitches against the fast-forward spit of a seventh-inning pitcher known for curves.
This made us cling: to the bodies of pets, lovers, the photos of children––ours, the ones we had been, the ones we never knew, could not remember, and the new dead.
We could not name our joys, only the pause between days in which we called our exiled silences back home to hang them on loops of the threads we meant to weave back into place, somehow.
My daughter is sleeping, and I want to cup my hands around her face, to frame for a moment what won’t be kept, to hold inside the curve the stillness of an original praise song, the only one with any bearing and still it won’t quite hold. Look at you. There you are. Come here.
sounds called what we would not say
until the shadows in our ears besieged
our remainders we screamed
for their release but they stayed
laughing into our wet faces
we could not see them
or our faces where we stayed
the stank breath of death rot
creeping through our breaths
stopping the songs
we meant to sing
of how we flew
after scratching our snakeskins
we were removed and outside
we could not hear the songs
in the street as the dragon still
spread the photos called
our monsters out
to hush them back
Time ran off
we had the babies’
toothless mouths looking back
lining their faces in half-moons
on our beds and with them looking back
we kited from the cells anchored
by the buds of lost mothers in our teeth
to one day fit ourselves back
into homes we had once carried
on our backs before we left
before the after
we left it
back there for the
Records of cross-examination.
The first thing we grasped was that we were made of one part here and another just outside us. The next was that Time was made of more than one kind of stuff. Now it held us; now it was a river beyond. Now an elaborate ice castle, now air and what flew on it. Then it was in us somehow, overlapping breath but more.
Was it a fabric? Some spoke as though it were something to be measured, conquered, won. But then, some spoke of nearly everything in those terms. Let time no longer be imposed on us, said another, imagining it a medium to be shaped, like clay. Some had a bias toward thinking that the moment at hand was a new Time. For others, the future could not be born without events, and until these happened, none existed that we could name.
There was much we couldn’t name. This was not a beloved idea. Often, it seemed to be measuring us, and while many fell, none of these were Time.
Of all your characters, you were most interested in Time, the fifth elemental substance latent in all things. You aimed to chronicle its flow by detailing refractions of brilliance on the river and its bridge, one forever changing and the other reaching toward permanence. You noted symbols in the shadows where one overlapped the other: the river, the bridge, their people; the hope of construction and the tragedy of collapse; the continuance of water and this incomplete permanence in concert with all forms, its eye a chorus.
Inspired by the work of Ivo Andrić (1892-1975), whose birthday is today.
And the ones who come down.
In another world, everyone lives in the mountains where time falls more slowly. To boast in this world is to speak of the heights you knew, have known, will soon attain. The elites put their houses on stilts.
Only the careless leave the peaks for the valleys, to feel the soft grasses and the waters of the streams and lakes. The people of the heights watch them and scoff at the waste, but sound is denser in the lowlands, so the swimmers cannot hear them––not with the all of the birds and the crickets and the lowland creatures in the grasses and not with the water in their ears. It took them by surprise at first, the noises spilling out of these lowlands.
What’s that? They wondered at first. Later, they knew it was time. The creatures released it. The visitors caught what they could and threw it back. They began to make their own and it was music.
Inspired by one of the worlds described in Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams, (“26 April 1905”).
There is a visitor in the doorway, both inside and out, with no movement except turning the whole world, reminding anyone who cares to look, just how close it is––the possible entrance, the potential to end.
Who are you? Someone asks the visitor, and the visitor replies, I’ve been here the whole time.
An old problem: how to phrase
the far-away steeples.
How to abandon a conversation
made of one part memory
and the other projection?
Which time is it now, the world
of memory or the procession
of days marching to the iron-fisted clock?
What grows beyond the window over there,
and who has a mirror?
Let’s shine it by the opening buds, a signal
to ourselves and our aboves:
The opening line references Marcel Proust’s recollection of the twin steeples of Martinville.