The passage of time, illusory some say,
is noted quite succinctly
by the ticking of the small electric
plastic clock sitting on the coffee table,
in front of the old couch.
Once in a great while, the battery,
tinier than my thumbnail, runs down,
depleted. The arms stop moving,
and the second hand only twitches,
forward and back again each second,
not making any progress.
My cat purring, perched contentedly, his face
near to mine, rests upon my upper torso.
Part of the couch is duct taped,
Where he’s shredded it over the years.
An emptied coffee cup, lid-half off,
contains a crumpled candy bar wrapper,
which I put in there, most probably,
so the cat would not devour it,
and later throw it up.
There are stacks of half-read books
(The Guns of August, Joan of Arc, Tom Jones, etc.),
an empty candlestick, a crusty dinner place mat.
I’m 45, nearing 46, staying
well, (well, more or less),
wearily waking from a weary nap,
after what was just another day
of so many, many days
of a humble life on earth.
Still, there are a couple hours left of light today.
Outside the big living room windows,
the evening sun shines green,
through the young spring leaves.
Make your time count.
Mortality looms, I tell myself.
So, right now, I will push off my cat,
(he wanders off, not meowing)
get up, dress, stretch,
force myself into the evening air,
before it gets too dark,
and run four miles furthermore.
Be home in time for dinner,
my mother would have said.
What is it, I sometimes wonder,
that keeps me going
through all these days?
I believe, I suppose, that all this ordinary time,
(Le temps quotidien, the French might say)
will eventually lead
to something transcendent, sublime,
forgotten by design,
in the daily crush of work and worries.
I’ve been meaning to fill that candlestick for years,
and finish all those books.
But so far I never have.
And so alone I run away,
inevitably with age,
through the indifferent rhythm
of the seasons passing,
the world, my life, our lives.
And all of us grow more distant
in this passage,
one from another, somehow,
dwindling in each other’s lives,
as each passage narrows, separates,
further away, disappearing, sadly
like the faint and ancient galaxies,
too numerous to name, red-shifted,
now scattering their dying stars,
with unkept, dimming memories,
and elapsing towards
oblivion unknown, fading,
their swirling light a mystery,
even to themselves.
Written in Spring 2014, revised 2015-19.