At the clock makers convention
we arranged ourselves neatly
around a life-sized cutaway
of a gravitational escapement,
observing the pendulum
bearing the maker’s seal
that swung to and fro
behind a nest of hypnotic linkages,
amidst polite chuckles
and knowing nods
the virtuous marriage
of metallurgy and time-keeping.
Not too many really understood
what we did…
Not too many could even fathom
the significance of what was on display…
Pretty cool, eh?
said the gentleman beside me,
nudging my elbow with his own.
The nude mechanism before us
enumerated the passing slices of our fate
with its ratcheting, circular logic,
and I found myself back
where I had been nearly a year before,
watching flames of cloud
fly sideways across the face of the moon
from a creaking porch swing,
unable to be certain whether
it was the moon’s movement
or the cloud’s that was giving me vertigo,
or if it wasn’t the sensation
that the whole sky was engulfed by holy fire–
an abyss of colliding powers
of which I had seen but a glimpse.
What else could have left me feeling
so weakened and foreign
to my own gathering potentials?
How to say, exactly,
to this one beside me
that the merits of time-keeping
now eluded me?
That jeweled mechanisms
seemed more of a misunderstanding
than a sophistication?
That the graceful swaying
of maple limbs in a spring breeze
seemed a clockworks device
for a polymorphous sort of time
we hadn’t yet considered,
and to whose workings
I had just last week pledged
my heart’s allegiance?
Birds don’t introduce themselves
without making reference to the sky,
They don’t think they
because they are the ones who can fly.
Likewise, my memories
have no meaning of their own.
Yeah… pretty cool… I said.
That night I drove to the sea
and collapsed near the edge–
famished and running slow.
I listened to the waves
and their shifting rhythms
as one by one, they wound
the spring of my heart.
It’s okay if you are most nearly
a slender line of light
in a forgotten corner of the barn,
or a stone under the ground
resting near to a great tree’s root–
a sweeping hand of indeterminate measure.
We are each a cosmic escapement–
a daily yielding to something beautiful,
a glimpse into an endless fire.
We forget sometimes that we
are what’s on display in this
planetary convention hall–
each of us a perfectly weighted movement,
and that our gentle nudging of elbows
is the very mechanism by which
the countless rhythms of eternity
are safely kept.