My time is not my own, or mine alone.

Everyone says this. No one says it more

than those who have abundant time to spare.

They clearly fail to notice: what takes time

is patting down your pockets to make sure

you didn’t leave it behind. “Tell me where

you might have seen it last.” “Well, if I’d known

that,” you retort, “I wouldn’t have lost time


here in an alley, groping on all fours

under a street lamp just because it’s bright

compared to someplace else I’d rather look.”

Call time a fugitive: nothing sounds more trite—

unless you never willfully mistook

for theft a loss as intricate as yours.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 34 Number 4, on page 46
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