Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Would you live different without fear?

If I had no fear, I’d parachute over Niagara Falls and milkweed drift the gorge with an egg timer cradled in my hand.

My grandmother kept a small glass and plastic egg timer on an upper kitchen shelf. If asked, she’d hand it down and I’d play with time. The trickling white grains held a moribund fascination, a faint consciousness about inevitability. I’d flip it; place it in the yellow holder, the pour rapid through the pinched-in middle, a small mound growing in the glass bottom reservoir. Over, and over, I spun time. Sometimes, I’d pretend to beat the clock and race the timer against the red second hand. Accuracy at the time didn’t matter. I wanted to catch a final motion, stop an instant, and prevent the last grain’s fall.

Over long afternoons, I’d slow time, tilt the little timer not quite horizontal, intent on length, slowing and holding moments. As I drowsily manipulated time at the kitchen table, parental conversation meandered to obituaries. I laid the timer on its side--the tiny river suspended-- and went outside.

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