Rhythm as Wisdom by Michael T. Young

This is not a way of time but of timing. It starts before the morning alarm, maybe in dream, maybe in pulses of the brain figuring a way to raise you from the burial of sleep and its nocturnal conjurings: fluttering eyelids and a memory of mother lifting you from the sea. But there it is, as the eyes open, a step forward into dark rooms as through walls of water, a splash of leaves, and a readymade method. A scent of chestnut and a style of seeming that’s like remembering a song from long ago, Stairway to Heaven or Sympathy for the Devil, a pattern that means you navigate the closet in the dark without mistake, cutting a unique figure as definite as a bronze echo tunneling through space, clutching hangers and hanging shirts, thrusting an arm through a sleeve, a foot into a sock. Although it could mean you trip on a shoe left by someone on a different schedule. But that too will be part of the counterpoint and tympani as the orchestra continues.

Church bells across the park blanket blocks around in their sonic mantle, and the door clicks behind you. A step from home and the key change surfaces, first as the day vibrating to the meter of a lawnmower’s idling pistons, then sounded to a glass of mead rung by a brass rattle. Whatever the register, the meeting at work runs at a pace of violins and clarinets, a kind of undercurrent one traces back to a notion of Bolero played in a hotel room. Lunch eases forward into other modulations, sometimes soaring, sometimes drifting, sometimes a rhythm tapped out on a dashboard. Each modulation is part of the composition even as light jumps in waves like the ocean and the ocean undulations like the sleep one rose from.

Later, light sifts through the curtains, and the clock on the wall gathers it in and shapes it to the sound of a finch in the tree outside. That recalls birds and trees in other places: one childhood afternoon on a beach stenciled in a flight of sandpipers, another waking on a farm to a winter morning warmed by sparrows in the window. Such recollection and resonance is the harmonics you recite as your history, not only in diary and resume, but in the way you like your eggs with fennel, dab lavender oil near your nose before sleep, or take long wandering walks through strange streets rather than drive anywhere. This is not a way of time but of timing, a sea hawk clutching a flounder at the surface where they meet, that point of intersection following a long sequence that arcs back to their different dark hungers. Echoes remain of both, rippling into the future: first as the sea hawk nestling into the gathering dark and nest for the night, and then you, at the same time, settling back into your armchair at home, and drifting into a dream of yourself as a fish with feathers, rising into a heavenly vastness of water, inheritance of the sea of your father who, long ago, took flight for other worlds.

Michael T. Young’s fourth poetry collection, The Beautiful Moment of Being Lost, was published by Poets Wear Prada. He received a Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award. His work has appeared or are forthcoming in numerous journals including Cimarron Review, The Cortland Review, Fogged Clarity, Main Street Rag, and The Potomac Review.