Wednesday, October 3, 2018

"The Clock Is Still" by Alessio Zanelli

The Clock Is Still
Alessio Zanelli 

we used 
to go looking
for pebbles—for
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.

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