I Ask the Old Man at the Grocery Store for the Time

He bows his head and slowly lifts the fingers of his left
hand to place them at his right wrist, but before
he can produce a number a younger man glancing at his iPhone
calls out “10:33!” from over the first man’s shoulder.

If one man is the past and the other the future, I will side
stubbornly with no one. See the past now, how it shrugs,
shuffles on unconcerned, knows when it is asked again
the answer will have changed. See how the future jostles on,

unconcerned, texting as it waits in line to buy orange juice.
Once, I visited Amsterdam. Flying home we landed
at precisely the same time we had lifted from the ground.
Not a minute had escaped us, hours in the still air of the present.

The past and the future have both finished
what they came to do and gone on, at their own pace,
to wherever they live when they are out of my sight,
but neither will stop moving.

Nov. 27, 2013

One of 30 poems in 30 days