TIME’S ARROW CURSED

 

He will be 90 in a few weeks.
He doesn’t think this is possible.
He says he wasn’t supposed
to live this long.
He asks again how old he is.
You’re still 89, I tell him.
He has a relieved look on his face.
Then he smiles at me, says,
that means you are pretty old yourself.
I begrudgingly agree, though only out of necessity.
Two weeks ago he was certain
he was on the verge of death.
Today he says he is fine, says
he heard someone claim to be dying
but can’t imagine who it was.
Perhaps it was in his dreams, he says.
He goes back to watching television intently.
Tomorrow he won’t recall what he watched,
or perhaps that he watched.
But he knows he will be 90 soon,
or something like it.

ADOPTING A HISTORY

She likes to tell him that he
came from a small village in Lithuania.
He prefers to remind her that he
was born in the District of Columbia
which has never been mistaken
for a small village in Lithuania,
although he knows he could find
several who speak Lithuanian there.
And, he points out to her, that would
only be half the story, for he is certain
the father he has never met
never set foot, genetic or actual,
anywhere in Lithuania.
Still, in his dreams, he can sit
with the grandfather he never met
and they will converse in Lithuanian.

STARING

If you stare at it long enough
it is certain to become familiar,
as though you have seen the very thing
in the very place and time before.
You know this is not possible, but
it allows you to conceive of the future,
even though that cannot exist, any more
than the past can now exist, and if it
once did, was it as you remember it?
The mind is ponderous, and grows more so
when it tries to grasp what does not exist,
and in the accretion, it subtly
curves space-time around it,
so that what is real and what is not
cannot be distinguished, and if
you stare forward long enough, you will
likely stare into the back of your head.