Once the winter stars wrapped in their cloudy shroud shed frozen tears, unwilling to come out of hiding. We searched for them in vain, knowing our failure, retreating to the warmth of home, only to repeat the failed effort on so many other nights.
Now, here, the winter stars are usually fearless, some drowned by the moon, but she waxes and wanes and they reappear, the brightest never fearing the chilled sky. We stare at them in wonder having forgotten for so many years just how beautiful they can be in their glory.
The meeting drags on. Time is frozen. The space between a smile and a grimace is the edge of a fine blade and the width of a canyon. And you maintain the smile hoping it is not seen as the rictus you feel. Politeness requires a smile, your heart requires a fast escape. So you stay and tweak all of the little facial muscles to maintain the semblance of a smile. You don’t watch the clock on the wall, for it is only a source of frustration. When you leave for home, your face feels almost sore around the lips.
Deep beneath the Arctic ice the whale songs shimmer in the harsh light of a frozen sun. We strive to hear them, hear nothing, hear only our thoughts echoing through cavernous memories. With thoughts of what was, what we wish had been, we are ambient noise in a universe which cradles hope, craves silence. Dolphins dream of days when the sea was theirs, lives lived in a slow paradise a world the land- bound would never comprehend even as they laid waste to it.
Linking things is a human need, tenuous forces barely holding across synapses easily broken or lost, never to be replaced.
Ithaca is forever joined with Galway City, and I still have not figured out how to get the two people together as together is obviously what they should be.
She sits at a small table in the Commons, staring, waiting perhaps for a writer or lover who may be both, to come down from Cornell and join her, while Oscar waits patiently on a marble bench, hat by his side, telling Eduard of the woman he expects to arrive, trying to determine how to tell her that her friendship means everything, but it can be nothing more than platonic.
In my world they meet, she listens, fights back tears and promises always to be there, friends frozen in time and bronze.
Time seems frozen in the checkout line stuck between the Mars bars and the tabloids, you wonder how Liz could survive a total body liposuction, and further details of how OJ killed in a moment of lust. The old woman in front rummages in her change purse certain she has the eighty seven cents, the coins lost in a blue haze reflected off her hair. Two aisles over the young mother her jaw clenched in frustration keeps putting the life savers back on the shelf as her child, fidgeting in the cart grabs another roll, until she shouts and slaps his hand. His cry draws stares from all and she stares at the floor as he grabs a Three Musketeers and Certs. A man in the express line swears that the apples were marked 89 cents and wants to see the manager who calmly explains that Granny Smiths are a dollar twenty nine and only small Macintoshes are on sale this week. He puts the bag on the scale and stalks out of the store. I would shift to the express lane but I have 16 items and must continue to wait and wonder how many incisions it would take for a full body liposuction.
Previously appeared in Kimera: A Journal of Fine Writing, Vol. 3, No.2, 1998 and in The Right to Depart, Plainview Press, 2008
But what if, just once time slowed significantly or even stopped. A bird becomes frozen in the sky, not moving, not falling, staring at the distant tree in total stillness. A drop of rain hovers just over the grass dreaming of chlorophyl. If you had such a moment how would you wish to spend it, knowing you would be frozen in that wish.