In the Middle by Barbara Crooker

of a life that’s as complicated as everyone else’s,
struggling for balance, juggling time.
The mantle clock that was my grandfather’s
has stopped at 9:20; we haven’t had time
to get it repaired. The brass pendulum is still,
the chimes don’t ring. One day you look out the window,
green summer, the next, and the leaves have already fallen,
and a grey sky lowers the horizon. Our children almost grown,
our parents gone, it happened so fast. Each day, we must learn
again how to love, between morning’s quick coffee
and evening’s slow return. Steam from a pot of soup rises,
mixing with the yeasty smell of baking bread. Our bodies
twine, and the big black dog pushes his great head between;
his tail is a metronome, 3/4 time. We’ll never get there,
Time is always ahead of us, running down the beach, urging
us on faster, faster, but sometimes we take off our watches,
sometimes we lie in the hammock, caught between the mesh
of rope and the net of stars, suspended, tangled up
in love, running out of time.

In the Middle

In the middle of a life, time often seems elusive, inadequate, never quite enough. It goes by so quickly except for those long ago days as children when summer holidays seemed forever. Now our responsibilities seem to devour more time than we care to surrender, always wishing for more.

The poet speaks of a life that’s as complicated as everyone else’s, that struggle for balance that we have optimistically dubbed ‘work-life balance’. She describes how the seasons flow one into the next, how our children evolve from infants to adults, our own parents gone from us, all of this, it feels, in a blink of an eye.

Each day, we must learn / again how to love she reminds us. This we must take the time to do, in the many small and endless ways we are given. Time is always ahead of us, hurrying us into the future. But then, sometimes we take off our watches, stop measuring the minutes, lie in the hammock, that quintessential icon of timelessness. And in those moments, we are suspended, tangled up / in love, running out of time.

Those are the important moments, when we pause in our mad rush toward who-knows-what, when we let time run ahead without us and just be present to who and what we love. What a gift that is, even if only for a moment.

I’ve always love the turn-around ‘so much time, so little to do’. Even when it doesn’t feel true, it makes me smile, gives me pause, time enough to be tangled up in love.

5 thoughts on “In the Middle by Barbara Crooker

  1. What a gorgeous poem! So full of wisdom – even now, when we are still in slow mode. I had never thought to turn around “so much time, so little to do”: now THAT’s worth pursuing! Thank you. xoxo

    Like

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