“Steps In Time” by John Grey

Steps In Time


I don’t know if I am
northern German catholic or Jew.
Nor am I sure
if I’m traveling through the Milky Way
at frightful speed
or a tree rooted in marshland
and topped off by low-hanging cloud.

And then there’s you to contend with.
Without a reality to base myself in
is that a butterfly in my bed
or the shallow end of a swimming pool?

My eye and mind are voyagers.
One collects information
while the other transposes it.
And I’ve no idea which one does what.
So if I speak to you in terms of corridors,
air, sea, or roads., don’t be alarmed.
Or if I tell you the dead
are just too-contented housewifery
and over-full bellies,
then go elsewhere for the meaning you deserve.

On streets, winter is magic.
Earth slopes toward the sea.
Sun goes down into an empty cup
and the night is wild with black raining light.
These are images that outlive us.
And yet there, on a small white face,
your red lips burn with love,
and not the blue eternity favored by the dead.

In other words, I am certain of your flesh
as the stars are of their fire.
And we’re not old bottles on a January day,
like all else, ice-encrusted.
Forever, you are the mercury level
of my faith and sanctuary.
And there’s a band out there on the sidewalk,
playing toward the next battle cry.
All we need do
is make sure we’re present and accounted for
whenever the crescendo comes.
Another graveyard visit.

You’d think I’d know better by this.
But here I am again,
at the door of the great underground mansion,
discovering, as always,
that the knob is impervious to my grip.
No point knocking – with fists or tears.
The more I listen
the more it’s obvious
that no one is coming to answer.

Why do I ramble through
this patch of serene nothingness
as if those with knuckles clutched to breastbone
are even aware of my presence.
The fact is
that everybody’s home
but no one’s in.

I place roses at the foot of a stone.
Maybe they have need of a gardener.


John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in Paterson Literary Review, Rockhurst Review, and Spindrift with work upcoming in New Plains Review, Leading Edge, and Louisiana Literature.

One thought on ““Steps In Time” by John Grey

  1. tennesb says:

    This poem rocks.

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