A man becomes a place
	As his work
	Is woven into the fabric
	Of its life.
	So many places
	I've left behind,
	So many ghosts
	Tread the paths
	I once held dear.
	Some I left
	Because it was only natural
	That I did.
	Grammer school--
	Its days of sun and wonder,
	Its Weekly Readers
	And history books and lists
	Of spelling words
	Gave way to higher,
	Richer paths of knowledge bright.
	Then, high school's
	Changing classes, boisterous halls
	And weary regimen
	Passed, to yield to college.
	Despite its turmoil,
	Its despondency, its grinding hours
	Spent in tiresome concentration,
	Academia was a happy place
	Filled with many a smiling face
	And laced from dawn to dusk
	With piercing, questing thought.
	In its beginning
	The four year span
	Seemed long indeed;
	Too wide a gulf ever
	To imagine stepping over.
	But looking back,
	It was but a twinkling,
	Gone forever in a flash,
	Now only a memory.
	Nor was graduate school
	Any more or less,
	For it too
	Passed noiselessly, unnoticed
	Until it was gone.
	So came at last
	The real world of work,
	The eight-to-five,
	The daily grind.
	But even this,
	Stable though it seemed,
	Proved fragile and evanescent.
	Life is strange,
	Or perception makes it so.
	The present moment
	Stands firm and immutable,
	Clearly in one's grasp.
	But the slightest glance
	To either side
	Reveals both past and future
	Rushing swiftly
	In their appointed ways
	With awesome speed.
	Or is All Time steady,
	Rock-firm and fixed,
	While my consciousness moves
	Over it, scanning
	Each moment like the pages
	Of a book?
	Does it matter,
	Save to philosophers and theologists?
	What is past
	Cannot be held again.
	What is still to come
	Rarely ever can be glimpsed.
	We are left
	In any case
	Helpless, lost, alone.

8/30/76

© Fred O'Bryant. All rights reserved.

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