Starting the day with coffee again. Or did I start it when I opened my eyes? When I ceased dreaming? When Mara started her day, and began to cry? Priscilla out of bed and across the room in one fluid motion, returning with Mara in her arms, and the three of us lying in the bed Mara was born in, just a year ago. Not a bed, really, but a foam mattress on the floor. But our bed, as this house is our home, these movements a morning, these days a life, our lives the pivot of creation, turning the raw stuff of the cosmos into a bed, a home.
Days, weeks, months. Seasonal rhythms. False starts. Our temporal boundaries. “There’s not enough time,” said a friend, and I wrote her, “time for what?” and she answered:
. . . for my being to learn, to make organic, to cohere, to finally be grace, with poems an act of that grace, of my cells’ will to form, & reverence for beauty . . . I am ‘anxious’ for wholeness, for time-to-evolve — aware that it takes stillness & dream. Rilke had above his desk the single word, WAIT. That word, in that context, has quieted me often . . .
Her letter, written last August, I’ve not had time to answer. My father, on his deathbed, saying we’d not had time enough together. And if I muse, in my fashion, about the lifetimes we’ve shared through eternity, does that make the moment less fleeting, or more eternal? “Time,” it’s written on the bathroom wall, “is an illusion perpetrated by the manufacturers of space.” But if you’re too busy to shit?
There’s no contradiction, only time making it seem so, as we bend eternity to the time of our lives: something to look forward to, or back upon, and the day I discovered that, I took off my wristwatch and thought I’d never wear one again, which for all practical purposes, I haven’t; but I cannot part with time.
Light takes 545 years to reach us from the star Rigel, Dave Searls writes in this issue. Which means tonight’s “star” began its journey 41 years before the birth, in 1432, of Copernicus, who taught us the Earth was not the center of the universe, but a tiny planet circling a second-rate star — from which, we learned later, it takes a mere eight minutes for light to reach us.
And how long does it take the light shining in her eyes to reach mine? And how long for this page to turn brown? And why are both of us smiling? Don’t we know our time is running out? Our alloted years? And when our stories are over, will we find heaven between Pluto and the stars? Will this page become ashes, and soil, perhaps another tree? I am scratching on bark, running my fingers along the rough length of the planet’s memory. I am my own roots seeking a liquid past, a racial pool, no cup of coffee but the ocean of completion, and my thirst for the time to enjoy it.
But what urgencies. Alarm clocks up and down the spine of my years: romance, and misery, and challenge to boil the blood. I am running out these hours like a man condemned to live them. But life is eternal, sings the wind; everlasting, whispers the rain. My own tongue says it all, and is dry before eternity.
Now, my daughter learns to stand on her own two feet, to walk towards her desire, soon to talk — to lie? Shall she be that different? Less time-bound, which is to say, fearful, and human? I wish her the best, which is to say, her balance at the edge of her own precipice, her own two feet, and the parched throat that will lean her towards the sea. I’ll teach her to tell time, if she wants me to.
— Sy Safransky