The Elasticity of Time

 

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Time moves horizontally, a train that passes on tracks and drags along minutes then weeks and months and years.  A station approaches, a dot in the distance at first, then gets bigger until it fills the entire window when the train stops.

Time stretches into a balloon of stillness then unfolds into a fan with a story on each rib.

A rocket shoots past the gravity of time and moments pass so quickly we don’t inhabit them, we only know time has passed by looking at an outside measure, a clock.

What if we didn’t measure time?  If the passing of the sun across the dome above us meant only what angle of shadow we could expect, and when it would be warmest, when our skin could burn and when we should rise and go to sleep?

Time?  How can the dimension of life that rules everything be nothing?  It’s consciousness itself, only the awareness of is and was and will be that moves the train, inflates the balloon, fires the rocket.

So it’s been a week and a half since I’ve written here and what is it that’s kept me away? I’ve been right here, just not in this definition of this time.  We work hard to be here now, in this moment, because we know it’s all there is.  But is it?

The wind was fierce yesterday and I felt sorry for the potted flowers on the porch, the onion greens all bending to the east, the zinnias putting out their first leggy blossoms into such a powerful force.  Today the branches of the old maple in the front yard are still twitching and the grass of the pasture across the street ripples with wind, the seed heads bowing and rising in waves that move on and come again.

I’ve been writing, I’ve planted vegetables and flowers and mulched the garden beds.  I ran for a long time in the rain and sucked up the endorphins.  I drew vessels and peonies and worked on shading, then scribbled the creases in my cupped hand without ever looking at what I was doing.  I glued and colored.  A lot of time has been spent with friends and seeing people I haven’t seen for a long time.

A long time?  What is that?

A poem from 2002.  So much time thinking about time.

South Twin Mountain

The land has a lot to teach –
rocks, roots, gullies, water’s
effect visible everywhere; land
hauls us into the exact
moment we are in, musings
about the nature of time gone,
how the asymmetrical arrow
measures in only one direction,
how time cannot be experienced
by any of our senses.
What would time smell like,
how would it feel
in our hands? For now, we can see
light, taste the wind, hear earth
crash as we walk along its borders
in to the next valley.

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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.
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2 Responses to The Elasticity of Time

  1. Melissa Burton says:

    Dear Grace, you have no idea hou much I enjoy reading your blog. Just yesterday at work I shared my many views of “time” with a patient’s family. Such a concept, and how it changes… Over time.
    My best wishes to you this lovely evening.

    • Grace Mattern says:

      Hi Melissa — Thanks. Time is a constant theme in my writing. So fascinating. Best wishes to you too.

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