My God, I look at the creek. It is the answer to Merton's prayer, "Give us time!" It never stops. If I seek the senses and skill of children, the information of a thousand books, the innocence of puppies, even the insights of my own city past, I do so only, solely, and entirely that I might look well at the creek. You don't run down the present, pursue it with baited hooks and nets. You wait for it, empty-handed, and you are filled. You'll have fish left over. The creek is the one great giver. It is, by definition, Christmas, the incarnation. This old rock planet gets the present for a present on its birthday every day.
Dillard is all about time. The passing of the seasons. Winter giving way to spring. No matter how hard we pray, time is simply slipping away all the time, like the water at Tinker Creek. The present, basically, is all we get. The past and future are simply different versions of present-was and present-will-be.
Sorry about my absence last night. Thomas Merton prays, "Give us time!" That's exactly what I needed last night and tonight. More time. But the clock beat me. At 11 p.m., I was brain dead. I fell into bed and went to sleep almost immediately.
I've been battling time this evening, as well. Time is winning. It is nearly 11:30 p.m. now, and I know that, in a few hours, I will hear the plows come roaring up and down my street, throwing a good foot of snow into my driveway. I need to get to sleep.
This week, I have chosen Sandra Beasely as Poet of the Week. And tonight's poem is about Christmas, since we only have 333 more shopping days left.
Saint Marty is feeling the crunch.
by: Sandra Beasley
The tree is a spruce monster, refusing to fit--
so my father decapitates it with a handsaw.
We drape the body with tinsel before
he weaves in bulbs, their white and steady light,
and sneaks in his blinkers of blue and green.
This year there are strikes: my sister refuses
to open her advent calendar until he sees a doctor;
my father refuses to see a doctor, popping Excedrin;
my mother votes for a cruise, her sister's house
anywhere she won't have to hang ornaments.
We thumb through her maps and clippings,
but it's that familiar silver that fills our palms,
tinsel we'll be picking from the carpet until May.
On the Eve we open one gift, make one toast, feast:
curried vegetables, green beans and bacon,
wine and more wine, always a knife sharp enough
to cut the roast of our hearts. A lover said I've never
seen people trying so hard to make each other happy
manage to make each other so miserable. Clearly, I said,
you do not understand the true meaning of Christmas.
Tonight we'll wrap gifts until dawn, alone
in our many rooms. The house quiet except for
my father's cough; except for twenty-five chocolates
rattling behind twenty-five unopened windows,
except for my sister stringing up angels, in one hand
their tiny napes of neck and in the other hand, a hook.