Syllables of Time

Two weeks ago David and I went to the opening of a show of Catherine Tuttle’s paintings at McGowan’s Art Gallery.  The paintings were vividly interpreted landscapes of the White Mountains, seen from a hiker’s perspective.  A few of our hiking friends were also at the opening, and we had fun showing each other which paintings we’d love to own, to have a favorite view at home with us all the time.  David’s friend Bob, another painter, was also at the opening, and the three of us were talking about establishing a practice of art.

“I’m painting every day,” Bob said.

“I’ve started writing a haiku every day,” I said.  “It’s a way to have at least 17 syllables of time a day that isn’t about working.”

“Why did you say syllables of time?” Bob asked.  “Why would you say time?”

“Because that’s how I think of it,” I answered.  Bob talked about a recent book by a local author, Turn and Jump: How Time and Place Fell Apart.  Bob had read the book and its essays on how time and place were closely connected in the past, when small towns set their own pace by the rising and falling of the sun, before the frenetic calculation of every minute of most days by schedules and appointments and things that have to be done right now.  I’ve been exploring the theme of time in my poetry for decades, and have an entire manuscript of poems that is mostly a mediation on time, physics, and the immutable laws of the physical world that underlie the mystery of consciousness.  Where does time exist?  It can’t be measured, but we all experience its passing.  It has no physical dimension, but controls how we move through our day every day.  Just the word move implies time, as any change in physical location, awareness, feeling, consciousness, anything, requires the passage of time to be perceived.  Something is one way or in one place, and then it’s not.  That takes time.

“I think part of being retired,” Bob said, and he is, “is reconnecting time and place.”  I need to read that book.  Today’s Haiku:

Dark morning, dark day
Rain stripping the last brown oaks
Syllables of time.


About Grace Mattern

Grace Mattern is a poet, writer, mother, grandmother, partner, friend, family member, gardener, triathlete, hiker and for 30 years was the Executive Director of the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. She resigned her position at the Coalition on June 15, 2011 in order to concentrate on her writing, while continuing to engage in the movement to end violence against women as a consultant and advisor. Her chapbook Fever of Unknown Origin was published in 2001 and her full-length poetry book The Truth About Death was published in 2012.
This entry was posted in Art, Time, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Syllables of Time

  1. J. Lai says:

    I love this post…especially the observation about the word move implying time.

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