Glosa For Time


Glosa For Time




Strange planet and strange people on it 

They yield to time but they don’t want to recognize time 

They have their ways of expressing resistance 

They make pictures such as this 

Wislawa Szymborska  “People on the Bridge” 

The past is a foreign country 

you pour over old photographs 

wonder at yellowing images of wicker chairs 

lace table cloths, tea parties on the lawn 

what were they talking about? 

Two flappers, bobbed hair, silk stockings, on a visit 

to the sea-side at Brighton, they look happy 

an older woman, slightly rumpled, poses 

a monkey on her shoulder – your favorite. 

Strange planet and strange people on it. 

In the park old men walk briskly 

elbows pumping, chests out 

if they walk fast enough 

they’ll catch up with their youth 

those years when their bodies 

were firm and they in their prime. 

In a distant park in Beijing men 

with long brushes paint poetry in water 

their words transitory, sublime. 

They yield to time but don’t want to recognize time. 

though they see it when they look 

in a mirror – a window 

clothes locked away in an attic 

carry the odor of patchouli, old perfume 

leaves fall from a tree, dry and wrinkle 

like skin.  Dorian Grays hope by chance 

they’ll defeat it. Carpe diem – 

if only they could, seize each day 

and hold it, halt the years’ advance. 

They have their ways of expressing resistance. 

Emperor Qin two thousand years ago 

deciding he would live forever, designed 

his city of  terra cotta.  Today crowds rush 

to Xi’an, gaze at his soldiers and chariots 

and wonder in awe: he lives on. 

Now you lounge in your garden this 

autumn evening, feel the last faint rays of sun 

warm on your face, savor this glass of wine 

this dish of dusky plums, this scent of clematis. 

They make pictures such as this.


By Margaret Zielinski


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