An ekphrastic meditation on time, likeness, and the human, ineluctable impulse towards art, among other things, this poem persuades and delights me at every turn. With each turn of the line; each syntactical extension, repetition, and shift; and each new metaphor’s luminous disclosure, I feel a mind alive in the act of creating and interrupting patterns, which is to say, in the dominion of language, making poetry. Above all, I’m enchanted by these images. After reading this poem—after watching fruit flies silver a funnel down to a vinegar-sweet trap, droplets forming at the foot of soaked tights slung over a shower, and a beloved face turn in the light beyond a window into a sundial—I can’t help but see the world, if only fleetingly, through new and clearer eyes.
—Suzanne Buffam, Thomas Morton Memorial Prize Judge, 2017
The Long Now Foundation’s ongoing
art installation, a 10,000-year clock thrust
into the limestone cliffs of Snake Range
amidst bristlecone pines,
testament to our experimental temporal
rhythms. A peal set at unpredictable
intervals bewilders with each improvisational chime.
I press the button on the toaster that reads
A BIT MORE, send time out
the cat door to rewild, hold out
for the slice to leap up, a hearty indication
of novel measures. On the window sill,
the last of the fruit flies circle, a silk-winged
cloud. The funnel silvers
the flies down to the vinegar-sweet
trap I’ve laid, another pattern’s demise.
A single ranunculus blooms, moon
to the planet of the table, reveals
its infinite dark side. Droplets
form at the foot of tights slung over
the shower stall to dry.
Even my molecular history
to the naked eye. “Listen to water,”
admonishes the nearby waterline, and even
this pile-driver heart I’ve trained
myself to ignore begins its grind, though
by the time the rhythm reaches me, it’s rendered
meaningless: I’ve fallen
behind. Off centre, I’m still naïve enough
to believe I’m in this. Through the rectangle
portal of my kitchen, I watch light
make of a face a sundial.
A crow goes off like a five-alarm fire.
Thousands of miles off, dwarf pines
lined along cliff-edge tick
in a wind that whips up,
distorts everything, then dies.
Sheryda Warrener is the author of two poetry collections: Hard Feelings (Snare, 2010) and Floating is Everything (Nightwood, 2015). Her work can be found in Event, Grain, Hazlitt, The Malahat Review, and The Believer, among others. She lives in Vancouver.