Doing Time

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Doing Time

Time bends like a boomerang,
flies away,
comes flying back to
the thrower’s hand.

Endless this shuffle.
Unmarked days
drop off the calendar.

Hands stop on the clock.
The pendulum
swings back and forth
but nothing else moves.

‘As idle as a painted ship
upon a painted ocean.’

Yet the seas seem to move,
the winds seem to blow,
the sails seem to swell,
while our garden
fills with birds
and squirrels,
light and dark.

Morning ablutions.
Each day is a twin
of the day before.
Like wise each week.

The TV screen fills up
its washbasin of tired
looking faces bore us
with their endless wisdom.

Time hands heavy:
an albatross around the neck,
or an emu, an ostrich,
a flightless dodo,
an overweight bumble bee,
too heavy to fly.

Comment: An interesting article that I read today suggests that the lock down is bending time out of shape and that we need to adapt our minds and our body clocks to a new temporal reality. Seconds hang heavy. Days present the same routine. The routine makes the divisions between each day seem irrelevant. This is what my Spanish friend and teacher, the poet José Hierro, meant when he wrote about his time in jail as a political prisoner after the Spanish Civil War: “El tiempo aquí no tiene sentido” / time in here has no meaning.

A similar effect is noticed by those of us who were imprisoned in boarding schools from an early age. The first day back, we draw a railway train at the beginning of a long track and we number each day from the beginning of term. Then we cross off the days, one by one. Often, before the first week is even over, we forget about counting the days: they are all the same, lookalikes with a rhythmic similarity that sends us to sleep as routine takes over and we sleepwalk through life.

How important is time? How important is it to distinguish Monday from Wednesday, Friday from Thursday, this Saturday from a week on Sunday? It becomes less and less important. The TV chatters on and on. The shows we follow illuminate our days. I turn on the radio at five on Friday for Cross Country Check Up, which airs on Sunday. I go without breakfast and don’t even notice that I haven’t eaten. I make a cup of coffee and it sits there on the table with the cup of tea that I forgot to drink this morning. Each time I take my tablets, I write that fact down so that later in the day, I can check that I have actually taken them. The notes mount up and the bottles of tablets run down. Each mandarin orange has a tiny key and I wind those oranges up so they will go tick-tock as I eat them. My Teddy Bear has an alarm clock between his legs and a flashlight in his ear so that I can tell the time on cloudy nights when I can no longer see the Platonic dance of the rotating stars.

5 thoughts on “Doing Time

    • It’s the same for all of us. Lovely Spanish Phrase: mal de todos, consuelo de tontos … rough translation, when we are all in the same boat, only fools find consolation. BUT … we also need to know hat we are not alone and hat others have been here before us and have survived. We also need to know that others feel like we do. That common knowledge can also bring comfort as we share our human condition. Thanks for being here.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Roger,

    Sitting in front of my computer wrestling with words, I too, wonder about time. Perhaps it is a sign of approaching old age. The clocks, analog or digital, continue to trace patterns that suggest we have only one day, this day, that begins at any hour and continues for 24 hours more. Then the day starts again.

    A calendar is a bit more forgiving, at least advancing first one day at a time then one week at a time then one month…you get the picture.

    When we worked for a living, our time was measured in calendar years or semesters, and by the distance between holiday periods.

    All this to say that not much has changed. We continue to live on between inhale and exhale; we continue to live on between intake and exhaust, food and feces. And in this time of self-isolation, we still abide by many of the same personal rules, including morning ablutions, setting and shutting off the alarm.

    Chin up, old boy. This too shall pass.

    Victor

    Liked by 1 person

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