Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Sundial

I was down at the Berkeley Marina pier last year with Moises and his parents who were visiting from Brazil.

I began to marvel at the perfect magic of the sundial: through careful measurements in accordance with the laws of sun and night, someone constructs it: and when the shadow falls across the nose of the circle, it falls upon a number: and this is the time of the clock.

Then I mused... What if, somehow, amidst this perfect harmony, a misalignment occurred? So that the shadow fell upon the body of the sundial, but no longer told the time?

I began to think of us, our bodies and souls in the universe of our days and nights, and how fragile is alignment in cosmic time. How easily we can step out of magic.

Sundial. Black blade of the sky.
The sun can’t stop touching you,

It lays its hands on your sides.
You’re the sundial by the sea,

On an enormous discus. Splayed.
People, out for a stroll, stop

Sit on your edge, touch your clicks,
Your metal minutes.

Your metal sail points north.
They finger the shadow it casts

On the circle. They pronounce
The o’clock, proud

Of the ancient technology,

From a time when fire
Still lived in our homes, our woven huts.

A child rests in the shadow
Cast by time and the sun.

Earth leans away, and this
Is shadow. They ooh

And aah, the people,
At this display.

* * *

Sundial, sundial.
Some days

Your heavy metal sail
Refuses. The wind

Has caught it, something
Ambient. In the seas

Struggling, it veers
Off course. Or else

A mechanism, unseen,
Whirring in the wings of the sky

Presses it, forcibly,
Off. It must suffer.

Pray it help itself.
No, no, it can’t.

The people gather,
And all times are untrue.

When we would have two,
It has three.

When we would have one,
It has five.

Sundial wonders why
It was born to earth,

If only to click
So many lies.

At night, when it
Must tell nothing,

In the darkness
It cries.

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