A Discourse on Time
I saw a watch the other day, and liked it very much. It was beige with large hands that did
not illuminate. It had no numbers, instead it had little tick marks one could easily miss.
Its rough edges chafed me and cumbersome weight ached my wrist. I stifled a smile.
I took it to the counter to check out. The cashier was a young fellow, blonde hair fluffed
like a clown’s wig or the hair of an emo singer, oval lens in his glasses no larger than his
eyes. “The battery’s dead,” he said. “I’ll replace it.” “No,” I said, “it’s fine,” and paid him.
Time is why Shawn took himself with fishing wire and a basement joist with no note, no
sad goodbye, no motive to the sadness. His eyes, were they supposed to be hollow?
Saliva hung from his lips and froze like an icicle from a roof with gutters full of leaves.
Time is why Benny shot his girlfriend through the ear after they’d made love beside a
willow tree off Route 16. It’s why he dragged her, whom he’d breathed “I love you” as his
tongue slid in her ear, to the quarry and watched her fall, tumble, bumble, jarring down.
Time is why Esther married Adam on a cold autumn afternoon outdoors in a thin veil
while Adam sweated in his tux like a hose in August topping off the pool. It’s why
they kissed each other, why they locked foreheads, why they shivered and had five kids.
Whispers say it was despair from an ex-girlfriend, heroin in the veins, a flawless
GPA. Whispers say it was the baby smuggled in her womb. Whispers say it is a perfect
selfless affection worth living, crying, hating, sighing, and maybe even dying for.
Whispers say it’s love. Is love so elemental? Yes, but no, it’s time. No future. Flawed
future. Perfect, desired future. But always future; always time. The past a monument of
stone; the present a tub of lye teetering on a conveyor belt; the future dimly seen, yet not.
I walked down Center Street and met a man hurrying down the walk toward me. His back
was bent, his face stretched, eyes burning, burning out. I bumped him, made him stop,
pick up his sack. “What time?” he said. “Quarter after,” was my reply. And it was.
It was, you see. I checked the timepiece on my wrist, enflamed and aching. Its stiffened
hands said four-fifteen, and I believed it, for it never lies, not my watch. No. Not it. I
know its dread weight well, and so will he in time, that man with no time.
by Luke Evans, first appeared in Contrary Magazine
Editor’s Note: This narrative poem uses repetition of imagery and idea to steer the reader towards a greater understanding of what it is to live in the moment, both good and bad.