Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In our consciousness of time

In our consciousness of time
we are doomed to the past.

The future we may dream of
but can know it only after
it has come and gone.

The present too we know
only as the past.

When we say, “This now is
present, the heat, the breeze,
the rippling water,” it is past.

Before we knew it, before
we said “now.” it was gone.

If the only time we live
is the present, and if the present
is immeasurably short (or
long), then by the measure
of the measurers we don’t
exist at all, which seems

or we are immortals, living always
in eternity, as from time to time
we hear, but rarely know.

You see the rainbow and the new-leafed
woods bright beneath,
you see the otters playing in the river
or the swallows flying,

you see a beloved face, mortal
and beloved, causing the heart
to sway in the rift between beats
where we live without counting,

where we have forgotten time
and have forgotten ourselves,

where eternity has seized us
as its own.

This breaks
open the little circles
of the humanly known and believed,

of the world no longer existing,
letting us live where we are,

as in the deepest sleep also
we are entirely present,
entirely trusting, eternal.

Is it concentration of the mind,
our unresting counting
that leaves us standing
blind in our dust?

In time we are present only
by forgetting time.

Wendell Berry
photo:  Peter Bowers