Something of Time

Something of Time

Allison Hedge Coke, Fellow, Endowed Reynolds Chair, UNK

Wings whir, flutter, extend, stroke, stir, shuffle breeze by notion, subtle intent. Blackbirds sweep sky each shift of light, every natural temporal measure, glint or dimming eve. Resplendent black. When light glides spectrum, their ebb wanes then fills openness with wing, rising. In this gathering force blackbirds endure cold, relieve hunger, coerce energy from air, prepare themselves to rest, or begin anew—together. The structure of their spirals steadily unifies effort to combined, near effortless, notion. Currents merely strummed in harmonic coincidence, pitch perfect. Despite the fleeting variables, they rise. Something in their motion causes longingness amongst humankind. Those of us caught in the notion that life could be lifting, if the proper shift occurs, forget time. Time, as we know it, a construct we choose to enter in and out of when it suits our governing purposes. Lifting the lid of memory to regulate presence. In truth, only solar and lunar rises resemble shifts we know as day/night. Blackbirds, their momentum, their gathering congregations generate stimulus, rousing potential possibility, inspiring flocks below to attempt new reason. Divine unknowns in the greater swarms: cosmos.

Once, in the Catskills of upstate New York, days prior to a lunar eclipse I was consciously unaware of, I dreamed the phenomena was arriving. Dreamed of other far away planets in perpetual eclipsing. Of pulsing daylights on planets in dimensions near here, and not. The sense of time fluttering with each flare in ways we understand as day and night, yet only momentarily. The flickering light instantly fulfilled some urgency of knowns and unknowns within me while the dream deepened with armless swimming in surges, rising and falling, like a seal might maneuver deep waters, or wings might lift and give off the sides of some swarming avifauna. Shimmering stars, known by ancestors in visions, dreamtime, and ceremonial stellar observations would become apparent to stilted vision of modern gazers. Their existence would trickle now into accepted knowns. They would be admitted into recognized and endorsed thought. Though they may have dwindled eons ago, their presence now finally a colonizer’s legitimacy, probably labeled with a Euro-nomenclature, despite the Euro-less base in the place of origin, here, or there..

When I awoke, the notion of modern vision and authenticity appeared as suspect as it had in a well-fathered Indigenous childhood. Concocted notions of time introduced for the sake of making the workload pay out for big business and empirical enterprise. There is no surplus in daylight, no way to conspire economic prosperity in a truthful manner, save harnessing the solar power itself and selling what is free for all by nature of the universe.

I recalled stories my father detailed of the creation of the modern time affecting my youth in elementary school surplus and savings notions. Of the railroad industry authorizing authenticated time zones five years after my Grandpa Vaughan was born (b-1878) and a year after the birth of Grandma Maria Louise (b-1882). This time was made law three years before their ninth (and last) child, my father, was born. Made mandatory measurement, ordinance, along with daylight savings in the eco-planning to allow for greater use of worklife. Repealed a year later, the intent to regulate work hours beyond the passes of sun and moon, the order was instituted law once again by the time my father was leaving for World War II and my mother was working in the John Ingles War Factory in Toronto as her first husband was being shot down in France. Not long after, an atomic clock was created for more mass uniformity. Suggested the same year Hiroshima and Nagasaki were pummeled to devastation.*

In the gas war years of the seventies, Congress enacted the savings again, backing it up further than before into the wee hours and milking whatever was available for a couple of years. By the time my first child was turning seven, the dates of savings initiation were pushed to the last Sunday in April and left extended to the last Sunday in October. Again, a few years ago, during the midst of yet another war, the start and end dates changed by law, and again they changed in 2007. Thus, the notion that man can legislate time, can maneuver something before known as continual, into something made. Into a Charlie Chaplin world, where our beloved tramp is terribly trying to keep from getting tangled in the cogs of industry with homelessness being the apparent choice for those who cannot conform to Modern Times. Not so strange the correlation to war and eco-crises, to the notion of control of surplus despite the non-cooperative earth, and modern man, rather than gather for rise must not join together and cannot link toward a goal unless the bond is self-enforcing—capitalistic.

Sometimes I want to call time—time out—from the need to control and time for considering that need as unnecessary after all. We work enough. War enough. Find ourselves in energy crises enough. End up homeless when we least expect it. Especially the nonconformist. Yet recall this: we managed for all of time, so to speak, without the manipulated measurement for workday here in the Americas, despite the supposed need to regulate workdays of populations in the Eastern Hemisphere. And in this moment here, now, again returning to witness blackbirds lift, lift, a moment has befallen and within it a piece of the past in the present in all there is—timelessness.

*Dates of Daylight Savings Time referenced on:

Something of Time

Sundial definition:

course measurement beyond

what man may maximize.

Tilt occurrence shifting shades

on this roundabout looping

seemingly forever, but not.

Where on the sundial,

solstice needle, chimney rock

does leap year evidence appear?

Where does time begin, Man end?

Must man maximize?

Even Sun leaves his high at noon.

Dusk, Dawn, Blackbirds

Blackbirds catch creases

bend with wind winding wildly

in seamless coordinates—flight.

In their ebbing, Earth tingles

like liveness crawling napes

when duet pitch is perfect, nigh.

In their rising, something of us glides.


Somewhere beyond realms

Stars pulse daytimes

whilst one passes

turning all


Published BEI Newsletter Fall 2007


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