Time Dilation by Saba Zahoor (poetry)

Time Dilation

Memory is water.
So she takes care lest it takes
to turbulence in her warped soul
or flow heedlessly through,
and flood
the pathways of her body.
Maybe it is just a dream:
Her childhood prancing around,
with the attention span of butterflies,
flitting about from one flower to another
in her grandfather’s garden of origami.
Where gnomes would appear
from behind the rose bushes
and slip into her pockets,
manuscripts of much importance.
They always read the same:
‘Catch the fugitive. Don’t let it go.’
But it fled,
fled from her grandfather’s house
of clockworks, up through
the staircase of geodesics
onto the terrace of wormholes
and up and away.
It escaped at the speed of light,
sapping the soul out of her body.

Memory is water.
It freezes at the touch of her fingertips, and turns into
a wisp of tendrils
as she attempts to clasp it tight.
Time had slowed down;
the garden left untended.
The all too familiar landscape,
the stern and the rigid birch trees,
the solitary mulberry tree,
had all been stirred giddy
as into the melting broth
of a witch’s cauldron.
But it was as she had
long since suspected:
Time Dilation.
Everything had been bargained
for the wondrous journey
of her stellar childhood.
In a multiverse of possibilities,
pining for the comet of childhood
that comes but once in a lifetime,
she had descended
into declining years
seamlessly, indiscernibly
till it was said of her
‘Could it be she too had been a child once?’

Memory is water.
It changes its form every time
she looks back on it;
reshapes itself with every container that tries to hold it-
overflowing in the heart,
firing lightening bolts through the mind.
Your life
skips like a stone over a lake:
now like a child playing in the water,
now like an old woman grown weary of it;
never feeling like an adult
(Your adulthood as if skimmed out.)
You witness the hands of the clock
convulsing with hysteria:
How does one recover from that?
How does one wind that clock?
How does one count afresh;
mark the days again, after
the summers and the winters
of one’s convalescence?
What does one do when one is
done dusting and sorting, ironing
out all the wrinkles, she wondered.
Gardening, perhaps?
Yes, life could be perfect again
as she imagined her kids,
with the attention span of butterflies,
flitting about from one flower to another
in her garden of origami.

Saba Zahoor is from Kashmir

selective focus photo of brown and blue hourglass on stones
photo from Unsplash by Aron Visuals