How I cherish these wordless moments of astonishment, these car wreck instants when I still don’t know if I’m alive, amidst the hiss of engine gasses and the tinkle of falling glass. I am a grain of sand.
Once I was part of what I thought to be a greater whole but I have been reduced to something more basic, now, something closer to an element. I was, perhaps, a boulder, or a mountain, and I stood apart from the world in a form that was distinct and recognizable. I was some thing.
I possessed, then, a quality of greatness, of majesty. Or so I believed. But here I am, now, numbered among the grains that blow, accumulate, form temporary barriers, smaller mountains, that flow continuously from one form to the next.
Other forms may take root in me. I may bind with others of my kind. Moisture may hold me together for a time. But what is that. Time.
A quality of light, a function of perception. The perception of time is relative to the rate of change I can mark visually within my immediate environment – movement, the hands of clocks, the color of leaves, the transit of clouds, the course of the nearest star as it passes through the sky. And then there are the changes that occur more slowly, glacially – the graying of hair, the folding of skin, the fading of limestone facades. Time is change in form.
Time is the ticking off of nows. A sequence of nows, becoming thens. Tick-tock; tick-tock. Now-then; now-then. Time is the anticipation of whens and a collected narrative of thens.
Who was I then but thens and whens?
Who am I now but now?
I am a grain of sand. Then, a mountain, now just a tiny granule of stone. Atom rather than Adam.
* * *
The sound of the collision is a requiem for the body and the blood. Tires moan, metals crumple, glass pops and there is a symphony of trumpets in the key of F. Bodies in motion. Bodies at rest. I’m breathing so I must be living. I’m bleeding so I might be dying. But I understand neither state despite existing in one for half a century while concurrently dreaming of the other. That’s a hundred years of abject mystery. But it takes time for even a pebble to erode, so as to become granular.
I am a grain of sand, numberless now as the galaxies are numberless, with all their constituent stars.
o O o