Persistence of Time
Acrylic on board | 2019 | 20in x 16in
The sun fell on us and a gentle breeze that filled my nose with the perfume of your baby hair. You were less than two years old. We sat in the grass of our little oasis of a back yard, safe from the world’s hemorrhaging brokenness. You held out your hand to me. In it was wonder wrapped in stone. “A rock” you said. “Iraq” I heard. My mind went to the news headlines and images of broken bodies from war and insurgencies on the other side of the world.
Yes, “a rock” Ethie, I said with deliberate separation of syllables (and father terror seasoned by self control). Struggling to hold back the fragments of horror seemingly everywhere, trying to protect him from me and what I know and have seen.
He was transfixed in child like wonder of this stone. What did you see? Your brow was serious, this was important. And that was it! The important thing in that moment was that it was a rock and I was listening there with him.
What is it that erodes our minds so that we stop seeing the wonder of rocks and bees and start seeing threats and power struggles and boundaries to crush? I tore through a membrane in that moment I heard “A-raq”. It was no longer my own skin I worried about. Exponentially more, I feared for my precious boy.
Later in life, I would be ready with your sister. Time used the same moves on me and I was ready. And the twins, they’re raising each other. But you, you nailed me and I’ve never gotten up.
I’ve wept deep within for my brothers a little way down time’s line who sat once with their sons in the enchantment and delighted in the poetry of childhood and grass and stones. Who did their best to nourish and nurture and build their boy into strength and honor and goodness. They did such a good job that their son ran off to become a warrior. And in the click of a button, winter entered their garden never to bloom again as it once did. Tears now water the place that used to bloom wild with wonder.
I speak from empathy and not experience. But this I do know, Time is a locomotive devouring the track before it. A freight train unmovable, undeniable, manifest like a sparrow flitting in a breeze, utterly silent.