Liminal; The Hourglass
Precisely as the most
memorable exchanges so
often occur at the brink
of departure, host and guest
both in the foyer, near the open door,
rocking from foot to foot, the rising roar
of the party still in full
swing behind the host,
who says or tries to say
goodbye to the departing
guest, who (wait! not yet!)
remembers one last thing she meant to say,
the pair of them both find themselves transfixed
by a shared uninvited memory
of someone who has not
been, who will not be
at this party
or any party ever again,
just that exchange at the threshold,
not an intentional permanent farewell,
only a provisional goodbye
(happy New Year!) until we meet again,
although they know
though they do not say so
that this may be the last
meeting for host or guest
or any of us—
The sand in this hourglass doesn’t run
but trickles; spurts; stops; starts again.
What does this weird staccato mean?
Is it a flaw in the design?
Shouldn’t the sand drop grain by grain
until no particles remain?
Not really. Time moves oddly too—
no rhythmic sift, no steady flow,
uneven yet in constant motion,
stretches of stasis an illusion,
streaming only to taper off,
herky-jerky as lived life.
When the last speck has fallen through
the hourglass, we know what to do:
reverse. Repeat. Ignore the flaw,
hoping the sand will obey the law
of gravity and providence.
But people lack a second chance.
So long as we are blood and flesh,
we can’t turn over and start afresh.
Only when we are fine-ground bone
can we pour through the glass again.