The Source of Time

I was driving down the A14 at night,
cruising at eighty, my girlfriend asleep,
when I realised I was alone among moments
so private and unassuming that I would barely
remember them; small moments unwrapped
from the good days we’d spent together in Wales,
but still uncoupled from the engine of tomorrow
keyboarding us back into the machine;
I had an hour of stillness while we sped
in which I came closer to the source of time:

the continuous present gushing
from its fissure, those black basalt lips
that never meet, the invisible
push of current, pouring, mottling:
adjusting the steering, overtaking a lorry,
men glimpsed in arc lights mending a fence.
I was there at time’s spring, almost unborn,
before it flowed away to irrigate
the hours and days, to carve the rivers
that flood and drain the valleys of lives.

It’s hard now to write this, days later, so I take
a quiet hour after lunch and sit in the sun,
determined not to squeeze poetry in
between rival demands. I make time
to get back to when I first knew I had a poem:
driving a speeding car, a shift having happened –
houses in Northants rushing by
and my heart unmoving. Stillness
on the axon of time’s rolling wheel,
the tingling live nerve of the universe.

Posted: Tue 17 Nov, 2009