Guest Poet Cheryl L. Higgins

Mortgaging Time

Whatís an hour that they can take it
just when spring renews all
just when hope rouses sleepy
from winterís best-laid plans
Its that idiot ecstacy
that giddy devil-may care-ness
††††† Do I dare?
††††† Do I dare?

Then the slap! The shove!
Oh, that can be tempered, yes
you may have your spring
but give us your first born
your precious, your sense of it all.
Give us your time.† Its only an hour.
Here, we leave you to take and
retake your measured days.
Its only a borrow, like an overdue book
We'll get it right back to you, swear it.
When you've forgotten we have it, we will.
Just when the days darken
Moody, sullen and hope falls back fallow.
You'll need it then, sure.
See, here's another hour for you.

November, 1998

Cheryl L. Higgins's Questions:

I've ruminated about this for a year, now, and resurected it during my annual sullen-ness over daylight savings time.† I suppose I'm grateful for the extra hour of daylight at this time of year, but I am increasingly resentful each spring of being jerked back by the suspenders just when I am starting to come to life again, at a time of year when daylight hours have become so precious to survival for me. So, how does it read?† It lacks the timbre and rythm which it approaches every few lines or so, and I get tripped up on it, but perhaps it reads through ok to others?† Also, can you follow my quirky suspicions of "them" against "me" in it...

Correspond with Cheryl L. Higgins at
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Still Time

Whirling and whirling
the eons pass, collecting years from
one moment to the next
layer upon layer
(so fine, so fine),
as dust, which is nothing, adds up to be
stone, somehow.
Which is what time really is

Where the measuring of it
comes in is anyone's guess
for who is to say when
one hour has passed on
to become the next?
Some say a clock tells it, but truly
who is to say when a moment is past
and another has begun another
when only the last bore us
blithely into this one?

And who is to say
When something once was
when only it just happened
when the ether of it
still swirls in the rooms of the house
†††††† in the ruins of the house
†††††† in the stones of the hearth
†††††† in the filtered dust shafted through the thatch of the byre
the scent of hay and dung
(so faint, so faint) as to make you
turn to see the reeve's mare's tai l switch
from the corner of your eye

When the scent of the moment comes back
who is to say the moment never can
for if I can smell the damp earth of spring
as only a child who is but inches from it does
who is to say that I am so far from this childhood
as to not be a child now?

Or, if I catch the spice of the sea
which salts the air only of childhood summers
or lather my hands with soap
of a kind left in summer cottages
long years ago, long years ago
who is to say that I am so far from these things
as to not be among them, still?

November, 1998

Cheryl L. Higgins's Questions:

I have to say that I love this poem, even if I wrote it myself - I love the way it recites,† and I chant it, walking alone in the woods.† I have my special phrasing, my pauses and places where the words rush a bit and tumble over each other a mite, so when I come to it on the page I guess I am necessarily a bit dissapointed, no, troubled, with the line endings, which I am trying to use to impart the tone and give the right word groupings the right attention.† Too close to it.† I would love some feed back about line endings, how some of you might feel about its rythm and any suggestions you might have about its lack of meter, whereas orally, I hear some.† I have re-lined this thing a hunnerd times and critical readers' considerations would be most welcome, now...

Correspond with Cheryl L. Higgins at
with your ideas about this poem.

The Albany Poetry Workshop