Universum

You're always talking about how the past
is not the past and instead fully here, as long
as one keeps remembering the moment 
of tragedy 
                or rupture— your father 
slipping into a coma then dying a week later; 
the last time your child spoke to you 
before turning 
               away in anger. You imagine
something like Escher's famous lithograph 
set in a world that apparently has 
at least 
            two sources of gravity. 
Seven sets of stairs lead up and down
inside a spacious house with arched
doorways and cool 
                     tiles, windows 
overlooking well tended gardens or 
a park. The picture is called Relativity, 
which brings 
               to mind the laws of physics 
making up the space-time continuum:  
events occurring at one time for one
observer could be 
                    perceived by another
as taking place at a different time.
Thus, some figures going about their day
in the print 
                 seem to be upside down
as they climb, while others descend
the same steps but on the other side.
Should they 
                    happen to pass 
or catch a glimpse of each other,   
you wonder if there'd be a flicker
of recognition. 
                You wonder if they ever
really go anywhere, or if one of them
has ever thought to slide down 
(up?) a bannister. 
                     How long have they   
held to the same orbits, speeding up or
slowing down depending on how acutely
an old 
       hurt or memory presses its fingers,
dimpling the foccacia dough? Perhaps 
they've traced the same donut loop around 
and around 
           so many times, they've forgotten
where they met themselves. All they know
is they must be going somewhere called
either tomorrow or the future.
 



  

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