Borrowed time

Two and a half years out from my diagnosis and I am still here.

Doctor doom would say I’m postponing the inevitable,

living on borrowed time. Borrowed from whom?

That stingy middle fate who measures the threads of our lives?

Did her hands accidentally slip so that my thread gained an extra loop she didn’t intend?

Do I have to pay it back? With interest?

When her hand slipped, did she twist the thread? Is it now a Mobius strip?

Is that why time feels so weird? Like there’s no backwards or forwards,

 no orderly progression but rather a spiraling roller coaster

defying gravity in its swirling loop de loops,

a deluge of déjà vu moments spilling

into what my father called jamais vu,

that unsettling feeling that something that should be familiar has never been seen before.

Covid has been a masterful “thief of time,” (thank you Tony Hillerman), running the tape

at squeaky speeds into the future and back into the past, and then leaning on the pause button,

reminding us that time slippages and slowdowns

must have happened as often in history as the slippages and subductions of tectonic plates.

We think time (and geology) should behave in a predictable manner, but we are wrong.

My students write essays about time as they do their time,

how it stands still or speeds up, and wriggles free from their grasp

like a desperate toothy rodent; how solitary or quarantine

thickens time, renders it viscous; how time bombs go off unexpectedly,

releasing shrapnel sprays of memory and suddenly ten years have passed

with nothing to show for it but a shadow hiding in the corner.

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