What time is it?
It is a question I ask
Measuring what is constant in life against
That which never ceases to change:
Tomorrow is never yesterday,
Philosophers and mystics notwithstanding.
Golden window clasped to my wrist,
I survey infinity in the congealed smoke
Of your black digits
Floating in the LCD ether,
Stare entranced as they
Blink and shift in silent choreography.
Yours is a crystalline order created by men,
Endowed with quartz heart and silicon cerebrum.
There's a kind of blind ecstasy in your dance,
Like a runner in the throes of an eternal high,
Indefatigable, obsessive and fastidiously precise,
Quietly ticking, blinking,
Varying your motions only
To respond to human inquiry
With an illuminating light, perhaps,
Or with another dance sequence.
While animated with the ghosts of electrons,
You are like Fate,
A kind of microcosm of the immortal,
Order tucked into obscuring glass and metal,
Revealing nothing of its workings to the dull-witted
Hammer, everything to the man with the right tools:
Voltmeter, logic probe, circuit reference manuals.
Man made you an idiot savant
On temporal matters,
Blithe genie among a growing race of digital genii.
What would Cro-Magnon have thought,
Crouching over a fire with his fresh kill,
Upon discovering you in a forgotten nook of his home?
Placid and cheerful, iconically enigmatic,
Surely fashioned by a race of gods.
Perhaps he would compare your dance
To that of the fire:
That cackling, roaring spirit-beast,
Hungry, hot, demonic,
Its swirling tendrils of blood-light
Grasping and devouring all he offers up to it.
This is his microcosm of Fate,
Turbulent and frightening,
Feral life consuming and swelling,
Receding and redoubling, like the herds,
According to the presence or lack of sustenance.
(Is it a coincidence that "fire" rhymes with "desire"?)
How strange, indeed, you would seem to him!
As I watch the figures
Melt into each other in an intimately familiar rhythm,
I reflect on how inert metal and crystal
May give rise to infinite sequences through time;
The grand-metaphysical question resurfaces:
Is there a static for all our dynamics?
I look away from my watch Into the fire,
Back to my watch,
To the clouds and to the oceans,
To the skyscrapers,
To the trees,
To the tangle of crisscrossing highways innervating city and suburb,
To the winding of river beds, the coursing of vein and artery,
Back to my watch,
To the computer on my desk,
To the flock of migrating birds out the window,
To the conservatively-dressed woman walking to her car,
To the crowds bustling with apparent incoherence through a shopping center,
Searching for the right metaphor
To span the universe.
But they all are a part of the universe,
As am I.
At best, each part can be a model
For the Whole.
The horses stumble,
My chariot sinks into mires of complexity.
I must suit my metaphor to the occasion, it seems,
Find the best equations to match my experience.
This, I think, is our lot, each of us:
Ever to approximate the our niche in the Infinite Whole
With our own finite formulae.
Alas, I end my attempts at Imagery
In a tempest of Abstracts,
But is this not the goal of meditation,
To grasp the celestial in the forceps of the mundane?
George Chadderdon © 1996