How Long is Forever?











Alice: How long is forever?
White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second.

A beautiful young man drops easily into a chair,
holding his glasses loosely and frowning.
He doesn’t see me, his thoughts are somewhere else,
but I see him and I am watching him.
He is my future.

On the wall of his tomb in the Valley of the Kings
a small child is being carefully introduced to the Gods,
one by one, simply, slowly, gently.
He holds tight onto his father’s hand
so that he will not be frightened.

I walk fearfully past the door of the front room on my way to bed.
My grandfather’s body is laid out in there.
People are visiting his secret place to think and cry.
I will not look. I will not think.
I do not want to see.

An Autumn leaf is caught on a silken thread,
a dragline formed by the spinnerets of a tiny spider.
It dances in the afternoon sun, reflecting a shining golden glow,
pouring out its bliss into the last of the daylight.
Accidental glory.

I am standing on the ice of a frozen lake.
I am happy and I am free.
This place which I found by chance,
led by a love of books and beauty,
will be the making of me.

A photograph of a Victorian boy in his best dress,
just two years old on a horse which is much too big for him.
Wide eyed, arms out, back straight,
amongst the solemn faces and the blurred chickens,
showing us the horseman that he was born to be.

I am a short, plump, yellow fairy, hiding in the darkness,
waiting to rush out into the light.
I shall nod to the musical director, scream out “hold it!”
and raise my collapsing wand.
I am going to tear this place apart.

The tourist train rattles up into the high Andes
following a track which seems to lead nowhere.
It scythes through the markets of small towns,
waved at, wondered at, saluted by distant farm workers
and chased by frantic dogs.

Clouds are racing above my head in the early morning,
flying out to sea over an empty stretch of blown sand.
Different shapes, different heights, different speeds.
A rush of excitement.
I am the only one to see this.

A path formed from tree roots, leading upwards,
exposed by many years of eager feet.
A way forward through the past,
which cuts through time to bring secrets into the light,
and leads us out into the future.

Our lives are not lived in a straight line.
We are not bound by the dictat of a ticking clock.
We travel through our memories,
slipping backwards and forwards
to find moments which can last forever.


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