Holding Moments

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: September 19, 2018

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Submitted: September 19, 2018



Holding Moments


This had happened before

in the middle of a moment of beauty.


I was watching her eyes flick with eerie precision,

word to word,

line to line 

then, sometimes, back again

as she read the first chapter.


A silky light filtered through the curtains

just warm enough to balance the breeze that 

occasionally tried to turn the page.

The bed was warm underneath us,

more comfortable than it had ever been.


We had made love less than an hour ago.

but this was somehow more intimate

her eyes flicking

signaling the flight of my thoughts

into another universe,

her head.


And then it happened.

As she turned a page, a dove startled away from the rain gutter

outside our window

wings fluttering with urgency

fluttering and fading quickly

into damp morning

the reassuring cooing…cooing

suddenly noticed only by its absence.

The fluttering appeared in my chest

(I wondered if hers had also reacted), fading as quickly.



And then it really began!

Things magnified. 

Beauty came first.

Then the beast, so to speak.

Her face seemed larger

and terribly beautiful

almost crystalline in detail, except for the movement.

Every detail was alive, the antithesis of crystal.

Black eyelashes sliced through the silky light three times

as she blinked.

Three times in synch

the tip of her nose dipped ever so slightly.

A tear in the corner of her left eye

threatened to break free,

sparked the image of Lili,

sent me hurtling back through time

to see my Mother's face 

so still in death.

I had touched her eyes in curiosity,

but only gently, 

as if Lili could still feel a son's fingers

on her eyes.


And I could not help remembering

in this time of beauty

the saddest saddest thing...

Whenever it was windy, even just a little,

Lili's eyes would cry.

No wind.

No tears.


She wet her lips.

They looked warm and fuller than I had remembered.

A breeze lifted the edge of the page again.

I let the urge to kiss come and pass

lest I put a ripple in this moment.

The quartz clock on the far wall became audible

and now I saw her anew

an animal

a collection of molecules 

that was, miraculously, absorbing intangible products

generated by another bag of molecules.

I knew that i could not tell her what I saw now,

how beautiful she was 

how frightened I had suddenly become.

This spectacular, perfectly ordinary moment 

was inexorably 


falling backward into the velvet night.

These molecules that could feel love

could see beauty

would scatter too soon for this bed

for this time to comfort.


Yes this had happened before.

or something like this.

I had imagined it to be the natural lot of bags of molecules

lucky enough to have both memory 

and imagination, 

without which neither time nor beauty

would exist.

The curse of consciousness if you will,

but nothing unusual. 



Time was a tranquil river to my My Love


no Dali-esque distortions

to yank Her out of her Zen-Now.

She did not have these flips in perspective.

I was drawn to them, apparently.


Like the ambiguous figures in Intro-Psych-101

first you see the beautiful young girl

then the old hag

then the girl again ad infinitum.


Like when I used to lie on the cool lawn

in the backyard on a New-Moon night

to watch stars 

dream of Linda's breasts,

Linda from english class

Linda from algebra

dream of how they would feel

to me so soft

to Linda so soft

and to both so arousing.


There on the wet lawn I'd count shooting stars

and imagine that Linda was thinking of me

at that very very moment.

Then, as if the universe would not allow me this luxury,

an uncanny vertigo emerged from somewhere behind my head,

"down" suddenly became meaningless

only "out" made any sense at all,

and I was genuinely grateful for the Law

that kept my back pressed to the cool lawn

kept me from slipping off this tiny ball in Space.


Like the feeling I had when my algebra teacher

Mr. Titterton

Calculated right on the blackboard

that an average lifetime

of an average western caucasian male

consisted of exactly 2,207,520,000 heartbeats

which was 220,752,000 heartbeats fewer

than the average western caucasian female could expect to experience.


Mr. Titterton broke it down for us,

taking great delight it seemed 

in sculpting this time-warping statistic

into ever more vivid circumscription of our puny lifetimes:

We would live,

if we were lucky enough to be average,

25,550 days. 

This is a mere 3640 weeks.

…and so on.


Mr. Titterton was a great believer in visual aids.

He held up a ruler and,

with that look on his face,

that look that he got whenever he believed

he was about to change the chemistry in our brains

(without drugs! without drugs! he used to say)

he pointed first to the birth end,

and then to the death end,

and then to the place where we were 

on that visual aid.


Life, said Mr. T., was beautiful

and we shouldn't waste it.

My interest in chemistry and math

took many years to recover.


Like the feeling I had once

at three in the morning,

out of gas 

surrounded by homuncular saguaro cacti 

somewhere in the Baja desert 

with a different lover

halfway between Guerrero and Mulege.


We had made love

right in the middle of the damned desert road.

We didn't feel the cold until afterwards

when we noticed that

the clear night sky wrapped

all the way down to the horizon.

It was beautiful to see them down there,

stars at the horizon,

and then a little creepy

as first one 

then another

fell below the edge of the earth,

until, abruptly, the sky stopped dead

and I was sure I could feel the Earth spinning

spinning on its imaginary axis

unwinding the springs of our lives.


So here was beauty again

far more than had been on

a cool pubescent lawn,

a boy mooning at the lonely and breastless milky way,

far more than in a cold desert with a lover who said goodbye too easily,

very far from the nearest unleaded pump.


There was infinitely more to treasure in this Renoir light

than all the elegant abstractions of Euclid or Pythagoras.

Again i thought how marvelous and beautiful

were those flicking eyes

alive motile precise.

Biological terms began to sail into my head,

the names of parts of this wet machinery.

The very inadequacy of such metaphor 

made me love those black eyes all the more.


No, I could not tell her what I saw now. It would alarm her,

this fear of Beauty passing.


She closed the book abruptly,


"I love it. it's deep.

It's full of shit, but it's beautiful and romantic and I love it.

How about an omelette?"


It was over. 

The clock shut up.

I could no longer see the individual peach hairs on her upper lip.


I leaned over and nibbled on that beloved lip,

grateful for gravity

and forgettingness

and the inaudibility of heartbeats.

© Copyright 2018 Russ Hamer. All rights reserved.

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