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Abrasive Time

Text of Poem

Just think how alert we would all need to be
some morning to catch the light just right
where it shines on the faces of things and see
the changes that happened during the night.

It’s always the routine that day after day
we snatch at our breakfast and sweep the floors,
as if tired of our beds we hurry away
in the car, each one engaged with his chores.

So we do it over and over as children
over and over slide down a slope,
we crowd into aisles as cattle are driven,
tied by our nose-rings to destiny’s rope.

We sew on buttons and mow the lawn,
lie in the sun and on Sundays nap,
and never notice how time soaks down
our cracks and crevices, dries our sap.

It happens at night, I think, when we sleep,
the ghosts of things worn-out share our beds.
Then slow as the slowest of creatures they creep,
the tarnish and rust from our feet to our heads.

As dust settles after the wind has died down
a flower wilts, a tree falls, gray on our faces
the webs form spun by spider unknown
if we search with our eyes only obvious places.

Can you notice the change overnight in the grass
how it turns pale and droops? How a deep well goes dry?
Though feet stumble, though eyes blur, they pass,
the long slow procession of things born to die.

First Line
Just think how alert we would all need to be
Original Pub Location
Original Publication Date
Original Citation
Shaken by Leaf-Fall. Ann Arbor, MI: Kylix Press. 1976. 67.
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