Monday, January 7, 2013

Marking Time

They’re finally gone, the dark numerals on my watch
Faded to gray nothingness as the lithium's given up the ghost
They’ve been slipping away for a while now
Five years is pretty good for a battery
I guess

But the face is now blank
Like the faces of many when I tell them why I do this
Drive hours alone in the darkness to wade a cold stream
Coming home with nothing more than I left with
Or so it would seem, to them

I go on without the dead timepiece

I ditch the GPS as well, driving timeless into the wee dark hours
Not tracking the incremental changes in my ETA
Not agonizing over a minute lost or fist-pumping one gained
Like it mattered
Suction cup smudges on the windshield, the only evidence of this folly
The road doesn’t care
I just drive and get there when I get there

It’s my first outing of the year
But that’s as artificial as the numbers now absent from my wrist
So I put it from my mind
It’s just another trip, like a hundred others past
And, with good fortune, a hundred to come

With no watch, time on the water is marked differently
Measured in the arc of the sun, the shift of shadows, the drift of clouds
The growl of my stomach and the steady depletion in the contents of a silver flask
Time is reflected in the next run, the next pool, the next seam

The temporal flow slows with the lingering of trout released at my feet
Accelerates as they gather their wits and dart away, free once again
Fluctuates in the ebb and flow of energy, in a yawn, in cold fingers and toes
Tracks true in the movement of cast, the precise tic-tock of ten and two
Meticulously marked by metronomic muscle memory

Without the hour, I’m done when I feel like being done
Not when I plan to be done
Perhaps earlier, perhaps later
Predicated instead on alarms set in knees, back, and shoulders
All trumped by the desire to be here
To be here every moment I can

But, in the end, I’m chased from the place by the setting sun
Back onto the road for home, once again in darkness
For time does move on, no matter how marked
I don't need a mechanism to feel it

I’ll get another watch, soon enough
Deference to man’s metered imposition is unavoidable, sad to say
But after today I’ll look at it differently, the new one

If I look at it at all.


CathyB said...

What, no cell phone? :)

Very nice, Mike. My favorite line: "Meticulously marked by metronomic muscle memory"

Steve Zakur said...

The invention of the clock made us a slave to it. We splice the day so finely and cram it so full that without instruments we wouldn't be on schedule. Blessed are those days when the only clocks are nature's rhythms. Lovely writing.

Mike Sepelak said...

The cell phone is wonderfully useless on this particular stream, Cathy. That's no small part of its appeal.

Blessed indeed, Steve. And driven by strict schedule is no way to live; says the guy who learned it the hard way.

e.m.b. said...

"For time does move on, no matter how marked / I don't need a mechanism to feel it." -- Very fine lines, sir. Very fine.

Mike Sepelak said...

Thank you, Erin. It's always a pleasure...

cofisher said...

I don't carry a watch or cell phone...anywhere, anytime.

Mike Sepelak said...

I suspect that you're better off for it, Howard. But the laptop must get heavy after a while.

MacLoosh said...

Excellent piece as always! Much to my wife's displeasure my only rule on the water is no watch and no phone. I measure the amount of trouble I have gotten myself into by the number of missed calls when I get back to the truck and do finally turn my phone on :)

Mike Sepelak said...

Agreed, Mac. Nothing more annoying than the constant beeps and tones from a cell phone on the water. I've dunked two, in the past couple of years, and wonder if each wasn't subconsciously intentional.

Hope you are doing well! I need to find my way back to your neck of the woods again, soon.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely hate wearing a watch....but, find myself tethered to my phone! I agonize over it and am annoyed by the fact that I lug it around like Linus with his blanket! I need to sever the apron strings! I wish to be "out of range" much more often! I remember, making sales calls to a hilly region of Western Iowa where I got little cell coverage. I used to go out of my way to "get lost" even for just a little while.

Great piece!

Mike Sepelak said...

You are far from alone in your attachment to the phone, Seth. It's epidemic. How did we ever survive without them?

Here's to being "out of range" a lot more often this year.