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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Random poetry dump!
A prologue for the reverse fairy tale I'm starting for my mother as one of her Christmas presents.

Four Seconds

No one can say for sure, but it’s been
about two years, thirty-two days, five hours
and fifty-nine seconds since time stopped.
It was 7:00 in the evening, December 18th,
the sun froze half-dipped below the horizon
and the snow continued to fall, never slowing
or building up on the ground, and the thousands
of clocks throughout the city were stuck mid-chime
and had to be broken. There was no sense of when
to sleep, when to work, and the novelty of snow
angels that melted back into place quickly
wore thin, so the mayor placed the names of
every child who lived there in his hat and
pulled out twelve slips of paper, leading them
up the highest hill and shepherding them into
a ring, their backs turned to each other, and told
them that they’d be the wardens of time, and
in return, they could choose where to start.

Two was practical, suggesting starting where they stopped.
Six was stubborn, insisting on starting at midnight.
But Eight, staring at her pink snowboots, said
that she could guess the time by the pitch of the
clockwork evening train whistles.
So schools opened again, businesses rumbled to life
like willful machines, and no one thought to
use that hill anymore. But the children found
their own way to speak, though their voices
were useless for anything but counting and chiming,
they scribbled notes and passed them along the circle.
And Twelve, constantly looking for ways to amuse
himself, slipped a note to Eleven one day, nodding
at her to pass it down, and it read, “listen, last night
four seconds before Four I saw us all
getting on the evening train and riding to the beach,
and the night before that we were in the marketplace,
nothing special, just buying groceries, but that’s
not the point,” and he was lying as always but
they never knew it. But that night, everyone
down in the city sat up in their beds, swearing
they heard the clocks starting up again, and
complaints rolled into the mayor’s office the
following morning, but the children were
too busy glancing at each other, grinning,
knowing exactly what it was they saw.

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