Wednesday, October 3, 2018
"The Clock Is Still" by Alessio Zanelli
The Clock Is Still
to go looking
hours in the brackish
air—the sun didn’t burn
our skin: the foreshore was
right where we wanted to be, a
tongue of soft ground—allurement
to our strides—the sea now takes, now
leaves. To infinity. And although the hands
were moving, it was as if they had always been
at rest, molten away in the dazzle of reverberations.
Each shell—the most beautiful find, each sighting on the
horizon—the most grandiose dream, each flap of wings over
the swells—the longest voyage. These days it’s difficult to recall,
even imagine: the sea no longer brings wonder, but the pungency of
the salt dissolved in it; no more time is left to wait for the wave, abandon
ourselves, be lost in the squiggles of the foam. All is clamor—chaos unleashed
after long constraint—like the splashes of beachcombers against the reef. Indeed the
hands are rushing now, earsplitting like the roar from the surge: they run, they run like
mad while we look on, because we can’t slow down their turning. We
know it inside better every day: everything slips off faster than we
would, and never does the mechanism jam for all the sand we
may pick up from the beach and let among the gears.
To our eyes, however, the clock is still. Forever.
Poet’s Notes: I really don’t know why I felt the urge to make this one a concrete poem, visually shaped like a sailboat. Maybe it symbolizes our voyage through time like that of a boat across the ocean? The moment we set sail, the distance from the shore we’ve left gets ever longer, as the distance from the shore where we’ll finally land gets ever shorter. That’s the inexorability of time. We’d like to remain children forever, playing with sand and foam on the beach. However, we’re forced to travel, and all voyages come to an end. The clock can stay still only in our minds.
Editor’s Note: I enjoy the way Alessio plays with time and paints with words here and made the editorial decision to allow the shape of the poem to serve as its own illustration.