Time has been my enemy for as long as I can remember. Frustrated, I am bound by it, even as I form words and have breath to write this very thought down. I am bound. I cannot shake it. It cannot be solved. My brow sinks, my wrinkles deepen, my fingers curl, and I cannot change the very rhythm that gives breath to human existence. But with rhythm comes daylight and the sugar maple shadows that tickle at my nose. With rhythm comes the cooling of hot coffee, and the healing of a burnt and bitter tongue. With rhythm comes rest, and dreams tinted in reds and oranges while the bat navigates the haunting richness of evergreen night. Because without the rhythm of time, the scent of crushed peppermint would not travel with me back to my grandfather’s woollen suit jacket – its itch never shying me away from his wise embrace. The cuckoo bird would cry, but would leave me forgotten, never having connection to the rusty playset from nanny’s fairytale backyard. The mirror would stand still, as would I, and the wooden stool never would have been crafted from my father’s callused hands. Markings on walls would vanish with height unrecorded; lamps would remain everbright and undying, leaving candles unlit; closets of sheets would not carry the smell of dust and young age; relationships would remain stagnant, neither pushing nor pulling, loving nor losing. Riverbeds would remain shallow and mountaintops would stand still. All would be as it is, and time would have no say. Time unbound is not all-knowing nor compatible with the inner workings of the human mind. True freedom, true life, requires time to give it meaning, and time to give it hope. The soft leather watch that graces my wrist, keeps in cadence to the breath in my lungs, the color on my mind, the life coursing through my veins. With its metronomic body, I sit in the sadness of the summer solstice passing into autumn mourning. I sit here as the sun slips into slumber, the stars wink ahead, and I prepare my ever-shifting gears for a new day’s birth.
Tessa Van De Walker is a Calvin University graduate and lives in Michigan as a plein air oil painter and art consultant. Her fascination with trees gives color to her paintings and expression to her poetry. The Ginkgo is her favorite.