What Time Is It?

Charles Rightmire
Eastern Montana College

I count the rings on a tree stump,
number the years of a life.
Have I felt the wide season of rain?
Have I cracked in the narrow days of draught?
Counting rings number cycles,
but change moves like static.
Time lies to me.

I measure a mile step by step
but what's a mile up
compared to a mile down?
Does significance lie
in the height of sagebrush
or the depth of a pool of dust,
or mountain pines against a crimson sky?
What cycle ends on December thirty-one
if I've not seen January first?
Time becomes a memory
falling through stars.

Change seems a seamless robe.
Would the world be different
if our clocks ran the other way?
Do beginnings have existence--
a "halt!" and "for'ard harch!"--
as so ticking clocks and calendars?
Does time stop between ticks?
Does change stop between tree rings?
Does change create the I?
Does the I create the measuring called time?
Let us follow the coffin
and listen to the wind
that blows for an unmeasured hour.

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