chocolate is a verb

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Tag Archives: hourglass

found poem: there’s no today.


hourglassI’m thinking about my grandmother’s hourglass – a three-minute glass, actually. As a child, I was forever trying to slow the sand’s fall, turning and tilting it to see if I could make just a single grain slip through, but it was not susceptible to the meddling of young girls. I loved the sinking whirlpool of sand in the top of the glass, the perfect rising cone in the bottom, the weight of the thing in my hand, the serious instrumentality of its metal frame and real glass, the dark bead of metal around its narrow waist, the handsome profile of its three legs, sculpted like newel posts.

I take it out of a box at the bottom of the closet. On the flat plate at each end it says ENDAST EN DROPPE I TIDENS HAV and on one end it also says ENY MADE IN SWEDEN. (Google Translate tells me the Swedish means Only a drop in the future sea. Hmmm.) Seeing this, I think it might have been my great-grandfather’s before it was my grandmother’s, proving again his appreciation for fine timekeeping. It’s probably brass, but darkened and dulled to an even brown, only the hemispherical feet – round-headed screws that hold the legs in place – slightly burnished.

The fall of sand is no longer perfect, its aim off-center, some internal friction holding a few grains against the glass when the three minutes are up. Most curiously, the flat plate at one end is dented downward at its edge, as if the thumb of a giant had pulled it. Hard to imagine what might have damaged it in this way without destroying the whole thing, the glass protected in its metal cage, the grains of sand dry and glistening.

I walk away, come back and set my cup of coffee on the desk in the spot where the hourglass has been sitting. The sound is distinct: sand. Time’s a wastin’.