Time Is On Fire

I meet a physicist at the party and immediately
ask him if it’s true that time doesn’t exist, time
being important to me. Even now I’m older,
time’s crypt and wish curl around me like ghost wind.
He doesn’t answer so maybe I don’t exist. One day:
nothing. Another: mushrooms or mildew, or some
inching sprout, or some leaf gone black and dead.
Time does that. The arrow we ride into the now,
then into the future, does not pull out of the skin
backward. Or does it? The past is happening.
Pampas grass slicing the thumb before the dozer
came and cut the grass out like a cancer, my old cat
Smoke leaving dead birds on the garden posts,
the first man, the first woman, the madrone’s rust-
colored berries of fall, each second is in me. The arrow
we ride like a horse, mute and fast, retraces and races,
so that right now even as my valley burns, it rewinds
too, each black ash rubble pile pulls itself back
into a dear home, a living cat leaps into the understory,
and in the soft yellow hills, the first flame goes out.

Copyright © Ada Limón. Used with permission from Milkweed Editions.