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time travel

by tim sullivan

A city block divided us
From what was coming:
A future concealed beneath a film of grime
So heavy, so contagious, that the nature
Of its charge was changed.

We looked away from each other.
Black smears of gum of varying age
Caught my attention, looking, as they did,
Like the imprint of raindrops.

As limited as a metaphor is,
I thought, it’s truer than it seems
This teardrop thing—
It’s a two way street, you know,
We’re not talking about Rivers flowing uphill—
For the weight of different things in time
Is not so important as one perceives
Coming and going, avoiding and forgetting,
And such. Though he was wrong,
The science teacher was right
To equate the history of man with a heartbeat.

So, I wondered, in the span of some electrical pulse—
Or something, right? Should I look that up?
The bit of the byte?
The millisecond of the minute?
Or whatever—
The whisper of the intention of the cardiomuscular
To do what it exists to do.
In that span,
how many feet have tread on this blotch
Of black gum? Hundreds of thousands?

It depends of course,
But my intuition—what with too much TV
Last night and the idea of the weekend
Already ruined by a mood that claims me
Early Thursday morning—is no match for the trajectories
That intersect this patch of concrete.

The homeless man, locks of knotted hair
Streaming, storms by,
Hammering my shoulder,
My attention snared by
The grodiness—
Did he leave any on me?—
As much as the violence.
Too late somehow,
Though we’re both safe,
And glad for the supercharge,
The action in an unstimulated
Narrative, I turn to look
And see that it was worse for you,
That I should help you up
And rub your shoulder
Later tonight,
When we get home from work.
Which I did.


copyright © 2003
tim sullivan



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