This is the title poem from my first collection. I have always been interested by the fragility of memory, how even the most intense experiences fade, even the most familiar things slip away from us. What we recall later can never be more than an echo, fainter and fainter, of what actually happened.

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Time Lines

 

Don’t try, and you can feel

how it will lose its form,

the fading stain of paint

spilled before its destination,

friends spread out so far

they cannot be friends.

 

That time breathless after the ride home,

bikes abandoned in our hunger. Later

handlebars entangled in an embrace

curve to curve, hard edge to hard edge.

Rust-crusted chrome.

Between the forks spiders bred generations.

 

In my hands a handful,

sand gathered from a sun-flecked pool.

It has lost its glitter,

sifted grain by grain,

each with its own history.

 

Old loves lie in dusty albums,

compressed in notebooks,

fading in the script of rubber-banded letters.

 

Within the abandoned garden

once it is no longer a garden

only someone who has gone

knows where paths led,

how floribunda bloomed crimson

where briars hide the trellis by the lean-to shed.

© David Underdown 2019