“Time Is the One Essential Mystery,” Says Jorge Luis Borges

Everything tumbles forward end-over-end
like a stone down a mountain.
I keep waking up (it’s a pinprick,
like the mosquito that bit me on the neck
just now) and then forgetting again.
Just now, for instance, my wife
walks in the door from washing
her bathing suit and gives a little shriek:
a very large grasshopper has bounced through
the open door and crouches on the floor
near my computer cord, about to leap.
“Get out! Get out!  You stupid  grasshopper,
I’m going to have to kill you,”
she whispers, trying not to disturb me

as I write, urging the grasshopper
toward the door with a flyswatter.
One thing, then another.
Now, for instance, my brother is at the door,
come to take us dancing at the port.
I have to stop writing this.
My wife says, “Rob says you have to come
right now.”  And now, for instance,
I come back years later to revise this poem,
and wonder if I should take out
words that no longer apply, such as
“my wife.” Here’s what gets me:
how it never stops, world after world,
how we keep falling through.


Tony Barnstone is associate professor of English at Whittier College. Among his recent books are Impure: Poems (1999), The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry (2005), and Sad Jazz: Sonnets (forthcoming, October 2005). His website is www.barnstone.com.

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