The Rate

of species extinction, the pattern
of quakes on the ring of fire,
your respiration–what’s not
a form of timekeeping?

While we walk our dog
and ease over icy patches, an oak
hangs a limb over the street
and hums in its hundred rings.

I no longer vault
the driveway gate and, one
by one, my wild friends 

accede to time. Tonight,
I don’t pace with a feverish child,
but I have, watching night 
reshape itself, streetlights 

flaring through curtains
as her voice trembled to a pitch
that measured itself out, wave
by wave, in a house full of time.

In the dark, your eyes blink
toward sleep. Tomorrow at ten,
as if to weigh what we’ve shed,

a truck will extend its iron arm
as our granddaughter, bathed
in light, watches from a window.

Michael Lauchlan contributed to many publications, including New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Rappahannock Review, Louisville Review, Poet Lore, Ninth Letter, Harpur Palate, Crannog, Cumberland River Review, Bellingham Review, Lake Effect, and Briar Cliff. His most recent collection is Trumbull Ave., from WSU Press. His next collection is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry.

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