Timing, And Everything

Timing, And Everything

Gregory O'Dea

I have noticed something. It lingers in the spring
Of a tiger, or sometimes (though rarely) in ice not yet cold,
And rarely (though sometimes) in that curious light
Quivering just above the lake water lapping at the shores of the back
Of beyond. I can see it now and again and again as I drive
East in the evening, waiting for the sun to rise before my eye.

We would clutch at it. On certain soulful days my sister and I,
Lost among the mossy rocks, would breathe it softly in spring,
Watch its flame-flash hide in summer’s sidewalks, or drive
The waterfall of leaves as autumn’s chill froze to waste and cold
Winter’s dark grey steely sky. And we found our way back—
Lacking bread crumbs, or Ariadne’s thread—in the fading light.

(Do we know the story of Ariadne? How, struck by the light
Of Theseus’s face, she spun a slender thread, absent to the eye,
So that Theseus might untwist the labyrinth and make his way back,
After unmaking the Minotaur? Do we know of the spring
By which Narcissus longed for his reflection? Or the cold
Caucasus where Prometheus, bound, suffers for his messianic drive?)

But I digress, as ever, as if I never came to take this drive
Eastward, awash in my thoughts, beyond the brink of light.
But I am tense and amazed, lily-livered and quite cold;
I reflect upon myself, but doubt ever I’ll flower; and so I
Glance at the roadmap on my lap, like an uncoiled spring
(So many lines, so many threads) suggesting the way to get back.

Or to move farther forward. Circles or stasis. Toss it into the back
Seat with the rest of the story. Let it be another cause for me to drive,
Along with the rest of the conflicts and crises that make the well-spring
Of this moment. My foot gets heavy and it makes my head get light,
And again I've noticed it: in the rearview mirror as I catch my own eye,
Staring at where I've been, appraising the hazy tail lights warming the cold

Moments that used to be in front of me. And leaving them to find the cold
Again, as if that were the natural state of moments, up yonder and back
There. It's time, I guess, and the radio's history keeps it, like a cymbal: I
Listen to Satchmo's Hot Fives and Sevens march from New Orleans, drive
Bird and Diz down 52nd Street, Miles from St. Louis to a fusion twilight
Of Montreaux summers in winter years, until the falling sun gets ready to spring

Up before my windshield and then back down onto the pavement, just to drive
The dark crazy with the light. But the warm won't always follow the cold,
And again already, it's time—I guess—to be positively dying for the spring.