Time does not behave now as it used to, or perhaps, just maybe from such slowing down its behaviour is more noticeable. Bound in places, held in spaces what happens to spacetime, when space contracts, time constricts? Seeing no one, unless observed remotely, from windows walking past, or in virtual space in real time – What then is real? What is time? What is space? Or Where is real? Where is time? Where is space? What have we become? Who are we becoming? Going nowhere beyond the shop, necessities seem more necessary, for they are the reason to leave one’s space for a time, venturing to other places masked and distanced. Unable to trust anyone, who knows when or whether a stranger or a friend carries the contagion, making us wary as in every moment life’s time for each individual crawls and scurries onward. What is lost of time’s trajectory, no less precious for its ephemerality, no less regretted for what feels like its wasting, differently experienced now slipping past day on day, hour by moment for a nearly a year gone forever? Shards, scraps, shreds of time tumble in free fall as autumn’s leaves landing silent and mostly unremarked forming mulch for memories.
My twenty-one-year-old self looks down on me, watching from the wall across from my bed, as I sleep and waken, follows me around the room, leaning out from her canvas home, curious and enigmatic. I wonder sometimes what she thinks of the life I have made in the forty-six years since she was painted, a time and a life committed by brush, oils and skill to be a wedding present from my father, when according to him at the time I looked like everyone and no one, too young with too little of life lived to make my features have the unique signature of self only time can grant. Sitting here with her looking down on me now, on the anniversary of that marriage which failed after a quarter century, I wonder what will happen to her when I am gone, I who leave no descendants, no one who would want a portrait of me; but I shelve these musings choosing instead to wonder about the life I’d be living now had I not changed my name, not been divorced two times, gone to university at eighteen instead of thirty-five, not answered the call to leave the religion of my birth as well at its country. For I can see shadows of those other lives lived surely in other places, and perhaps on other planes, from that which I inhabit now, lives with descendants perhaps to carry her forth along with my genetics. I look at her watching me perceiving no judgement sensing no disappointment, feeling no regret, rather there is acceptance, without resignation and the acknowledgement life has its twists and turns, that there are eddies and still pools in the flow of time as well as raging torrents pushing one onward, for the trajectory of being is complex, and the algebra of the heart and the trigonometry of the soul remain mysterious. What I make of the life I have created for myself by the paths I have taken, the doors I have either entered or closed, the decisions and choices I have made, whether with my heart or with my head, whether wise or foolish, each have led me here to a place my twenty-one-year-old self there and then could never have imagined, where my sixty-seven-year-old self here and now can have a silent conversation with her, with that me, any time that I desire, and in those moments find a sense of continuity transcending there and then, where place and time no longer matter for in the flow of being all are one.
For the second time in my life
my world shrank.
The first time by expansion when,
volunteering as the assistant
to my then husband,
San Diego’s first port chaplain,
the world came to me
as I sat dishing out stamps and change
to the crew of various passenger ships
regularly calling at there.
In this way, I worked with people
from all over the world,
and though it was a big world
knowing someone from most continents
made it see much smaller,
places I would never dream of visiting,
and in many cases had no desire to do so,
were brought to me as letters to family
passed over my table with exotic,
often complicated addresses.
Indeed, my world shrank
to encompass the whole of it.
Since then I have relocated
to another country smaller than America,
but the memory of that larger
When lockdown began my world shrank again,
this time contracting instead of expanding
in some mysterious pandemic physics,
to be the acre, give or take,
the property on which I now live,
and it is a world-size that I can truly
get my head and heart,
soul and spirit around.
It is the house,
the front garden, drive and garage,
it is the back garden with its
ten raised beds and soon to be installed
water feature and potted trees planted,
it is the orchard with its new
and previously resident fruit trees.
This is now my world,
one I can easily circumnavigate,
not getting wet unless I run into the sprinkler,
one where I know the non-human residents,
listen in wonder at their various languages
in scolding or in song,
where the wind speaks its own words,
differently through every tree,
where I recognise and know where
the sun and moon and stars
will be each night.
For the second time my world
shrank and though I do not understand
what this smaller world will mean
in the long run,
it a world where I am content,
where I want to be,
where I know and am known,
where I am learning lessons unimagined.
For the second time in my life,
my world shrank,
and I am in no real hurry for it to expand.
Walking on a day too still,
the world all silent waiting,
wondering what portends,
querying the hush,
quiet enough to hear
though in the distance
combines rake the fields bare.
at the stone bridge can be seen
through Stream’s running waters
long tendrilled trailing grasses,
bright Stream Nymphs’ hair.
and the gathering of bubbles
over mini rapids congregating
air’s infusion linking
elements and Elementals.
On down the path
where Stream babbles singing water’s song
to mudded banks eroded
in days well gone and long forgotten,
hear Heron call when taking flight,
strain to see Woodpecker least spotted
rhythmically tapping muffled on a living tree,
see Old Yaffle airborne low,
and Moorhen crossing in front ignoring danger
eager to enter Stream’s bidding,
‘come join my swirling dance’.
Turning round where the path ends
at a mown and empty field,
no gleaning birds to see
the harvest truly past there,
back now observing elderberries
hanging heavy where once
flowers held heads high,
spider woven portcullises
drawn down before the blackberries
with stinging nettle sentinels
only the brave or foolish,
insect or walker,
reach for the fruit.
Then came out the sun
clearing clouds overcasting,
creating a less white sky,
the temperature rising muggy,
but the silence remained
etched into the space
marking fast the day.