This, Time

“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” ― Oscar Wilde

In the spirit of just getting on with it, I’ve started writing a poem a day. It doesn’t have to be great, I don’t need to spend all day on it, I may not even share it with anyone – and somehow those facts have liberated me. Okay, so this is only day two of the project, but I have a good feeling about it.

I always learn something about myself when I write a poem. Yesterday’s poem had these lines in it:

A future exists again and again I say:
This time is a gift.

My ability to think about the future comes and goes and it’s hugely reassuring when I can see those first rays of light above the horizon again, as I can now.

But the slippery nature of the future means it’s always renewing itself and therefore can exist “again and again.” Also, I need to remind myself that having time to write is a gift, so writing a poem a day is really the least I should be doing with that time, something I remind myself of over and over: “and again I say…”

Seeing the future can also help alleviate my anxiety and hold me in the present – enjoying now with a feeling that the future is going to be okay. “This time” is the present; right here and now is a gift.

Having explained my intention with those lines, I do acknowledge that “This time is a gift” is completely cheesy and the kind of memefied nonsense I’ve railed against in the past. So today I changed it to:

A future exists again and again I say:
This time, it’s a gift.

I hope the same levels of meaning remain: A view of the future exists again and again; the two separate thoughts, one of a future existing again after it had disappeared and one of me again telling myself to enjoy the present; and also the acknowledgement of the gift of free time – but I’m learning something else too. The comma changes “this time” so that the future I now see is a gift, something good, implying I’ve seen it before and it looked unappealing or possibly frightening (a classic role for Future to play).

These altered lines reassure me because the slippery nature of a future (note indefinite article still) is grounded slightly with “this time” – perhaps it won’t elude me this time. There’s something different (probably better) about the nature of the future I see…this time.

There’s a feeling of trust too if a future is being gifted to me and I can relax a little from worrying and straining to see or create it myself.

“This time, it’s a gift” also seems to lend more weight to the nature of time when there’s a pause just after the word and it’s reiterated through the pronoun. It expands beyond the present, which we know we must value and into that future – whatever it is this time – time itself is a gift.

But I’m still left trying to reassure myself “again I say: This time…” as if, naively, I’ve believed in this idea every time with as much conviction as I do now.

 

see snippets of my daily poems on instagram