Wave and Particle



You know how it is: time is on your side. Then it isn’t. You cartwheel down the sidewalk one day in spring and watch yourself drive by, ten years older in the passenger seat with your head on your boyfriend’s shoulder, twenty years older in the driver’s seat carpooling to your son’s soccer game, thirty years older in the back seat of the lead car in your father’s funeral procession, your mind emptier than it’s been in years, turning your head to follow the progress of the little girl cartwheeling down the sidewalk. You never noticed her before.


the mistakes in my mirror image of myself


Well, but why should you have noticed her? Maybe she was never there before. And then again, why shouldn’t you have? Is a little girl really a less permanent feature of the landscape than the house behind her, the one that looks eerily like your childhood home? Houses fall down, streets cave in. Even hills, like this hill your car is climbing to the cemetery, even hills wear down over time, don’t they. Yes, someday someone will pick up this hill without thinking and put it in his pocket. And give it to his little girl when he gets home.


seismic movement my errors in judgment


The stars are coming out now, it’s that late in the day, the dark comes early now that it’s winter, though surely it was spring earlier today. You step out of the car and join the stream of your father’s mourners, all of you shrinking and fading as you move toward his grave in the darkness. Stars, you think: now they’re eternal — and then one winks out as you glance at it. Yes, it had a good run, but it’s cold and dark now, and everyone living on the planets that spun around it winked out themselves long ago. Time flies like an arrow, only faster. You’ve wasted time, but no need to get so upset about it, everyone does. It’s there to be wasted. And then it’s not there anymore; or more precisely, it is, but you’re not.
You’re not.


eight minutes later the truth finally dawns

Contemporary Haibun Online 7:3, October 2011


13 thoughts on “Wave and Particle

  1. Hi Melissa, I meditate on time a lot too. My dad died when I was 29. I was in the first year of my doctoral program in education at Northern Illinois University. I remember incompletes that term and the kindness of my professors.

    My love for Dad then added to my love for my mother, and then her care for many years. After Mom died in 2004, I had to grieve for him again.

    The other week, I came across a card from them in my files, written in 1974, with just the words of encouragement I needed that day.

    Blessings to you and to all who are missing loved ones.


    • It was my dad’s birthday the other day so I was thinking about him a lot. I too was just starting graduate school when he died. It’s funny how in a way it gets harder with time as you start to realize how much you’re missing.

    • “If I could write.” You’re funny, Mark. (For the record, it’s funny because of course you can write, wonderfully, and do.) Thanks very much for the swollen head you’ve given me, I’ll be lugging it around uncomfortably all day. 😉

  2. Whenever you write about your father, it brings back to me my father, his passing away and all things associated with it. Anybody who has lost a parent would know the feeling. I ran away the first time i read this. Today i just came back to say what Mark Holloway has already said. That’s all i can say. Excellent piece!

  3. Thanks Melissa.

    I will re-read this, and share it with my husband.

    Poets like you make the world a better place, holding words by the hand and walking them into the place of no words.

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