It’s just time, the book I read, the letter I write,
the window I look out of.
It’s just a needle I thread,
a sleeve I keep trying to mend, the spool diminishing.
It’s just time inside of time, the future inside
the seeds inside the pulp
of the apple I eat, skin and all, seeds and everything.
And the fruit rotting on the ground?
Time unraveling. And time
folded smaller and smaller.
And the fruit expected
overhead? Time appointed and appointing.
And when it is time, I will hear the name
fire and air speak to each bowed head of grass.
And when it is time, I will remind myself:
All of the light is one, unanimous with the dark.
Every world is two: inside and outside.
Time is many: the voices of children in the playground
shouting out the stations of their games,
the specific gravity of my hands
setting the table at evening,
the names of the guests
on my mind, the names of the missing
become so many questions
arising at the year’s revolving door.
In the meantime, the wind in the garden changes
from agent of a far end to vagrant
turning over the leaves, looking for a story.
Once upon a time,
we were lonely children in a river valley,
and teachers and schoolmates getting our names wrong
helped to keep us hidden, safe
to make the most faithful companions of god and death.
No wonder we were ruined
for any other company.
Now, as then, the one invents our games,
while the other spurs our delicious cries
by keeping every prize in jeopardy.
Then, and now, the wind
in the trees makes the sound
of the turning pages of our nights and days,
the shadows of birds intermittent,
causing restlessness in the living.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.