Time Pieces

I.

1.

The poem parses time into syllables

and the syllables reach out to hold you

in the embrace of your grandmother’s words,

the light touch of motherly praise,

the squirm of a daughter’s protestations,

the first gurgling phonemes of the womb

advancing to meaning, dissolving to memory.

2.

The grandfather clock travels in grandfather time,

its tick tick ticking replacing the shadows

cast by the sun on a circular stone

that mimicked the once holy dawn ringing out

on the sway of evergreens,

the rattle of doe hooves,

every sound collecting to the center

of the pulsating green forest.

3.

The lullabies chanted to the womb

hickory dickory dock, tick tock

its way up into the time of every song

you ever sung and remembered

until its sleepy dreams replace

every still moment of waking life.

4.

The paintings in the Louvre

are all Mona Lisas and Medusa’s—

the same damn faces

with different smiles

that become petrifying

when gazed head on

but freeing apace when

converted into frame rates

that match the time and space

of your foot movements,

heartbeats and thoughts.

5.

The pandemic has reduced

the world to FaceTime,

apart in space, time and touch:

the voice, the echoing of electrons,

the face, replaced by the screen image,

the same damn faces again without depth,

permitting no movement beyond

the camera’s border, no past or future,

just a present looped and memed ad infinitum

without a song to sing,

no dancing cheek to cheek,

until denied the reality of human time

neither of you can sustain a relationship

within the movement of this thing. 

 

II.

1.

Now your world exists

in the untouchable,

in shutdown,

in stopped time,

just a still life hung on the wall,

that you can only gaze at

but dare not touch

lest violence erupt.

2.

Everything is gone

in the flicker of an eye.

The black bird

with the yellow underwings

speeds by in a golden flash

until it vanishes into the forest.

 

III.

1.

And you are left

with the memory

of your grandmother’s embrace

singing only to you.

2.

It was holy, holy, holy,

a divine person,

a hymn,

a double beat

of syllables

seeding first into the earth

and then into you.

3.

You develop bifocular vision,

seeing not only

everything near and far

but all that is above and below

the soul’s watery movements.

 

IV.

1.

You remember the first time

you saw the goddess

rising half from 

the water and the sky,

dancing and singing

on the shore.

2.

Now, everything is painted

with the white clay

of her existence.

3.

Syllable by syllable her song

becomes your poetry,

a repeating chant

that entrances you

until your joy

passes beyond time,

to become the only

thing that matters.

4.

Her love allows you

to touch those things

that can never be touched

without the risk of infection.

5.

The poems written

enter through

the eye and ear

and touch the heart

of the world.

 

V.

1.

On your last walk

a green snake

undulates in S curves

on the trail in front.

2.

In the hiss

you hear no threat,

only love

that acquiesces

to allowing you

to touch its back,

until it straightens

itself out .

3.

In that moment

time un-wrinkles.