Journal of Writing & Environment

“The Invention of Time”


At first it was a purely local thought—

sun up, sun down, high noon—

though sun’s wanderings taught

the yearly round. Here, a split rock

through which light reaches

once more its farthest mark

upon the wall, turning over

all the calendars. And that other

wheel waxing, waning, full,

whose nightly pull marks high tide,

ebb tide, bloodtide as it cycles

through the turning dome of stars,

night sky’s chronometer storied

into gods and journeys, plots

and wars—all that looking up

into a mirror of ourselves,

making us want to see what others

see, agree to wear on a wrist

a ticking tock that moves in synchrony

with Coordinated Universal Time—

weighted average of some 300 atomic

cesium clocks’ oscillating frequencies—

already late for exercise class

at 6:36 a.m. this midsummer day.