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Back To The Future


Gawa stands with her hands on her hips,
clubbed thumbs facing forward,
the same direction as her daydream, 
projecting out through canted bay windows,
re-fertilizing boppa's sod-plugged front lawn
in her film-reel (close both eyes,
see with the other one),
like they did when they bought the place.

"Time flies when you're having fun."

She doesn't notice her lips turning up in their left corner, 
but she can smell the fresh-cut grass trying to save itself —
to preserve what makes it so. 
She knows the feeling well: 
the only way to grow
is to will oneself (or be lawn-mowed)
into letting go.

Still, she wishes the shadows would slow
to the pace at which she learned it.

They grow.

She hears her grandson skateboarding (everyone on Hanstead does). 
He's been obsessed since Marty out-skitched Biff in 55.
He wants a DeLorean, not realizing that
he's riding his into the future all the time.
She knows. She was 19 years old
when the Doc got back to it,
trying to tell her the same damn thing. 
The click-clack of demons, Spitting Fire 
from something called a "Neff complete" 
(the deck's graphic she does not approve of) 
rolling over cracks in the sidewalk, 
approaching the fencepost
cut and screwed beneath a piece of plywood — 
ramping up, like her smile (though not as steep),
toward the street. 

It makes her nervous, and
in her memory, the movie cuts to an afternoon 
that may as well have been earlier that morning
for how recent it seems, 
when he was just a toddler, 
caught in his father's periphery
not 100 yards removed from a car 
barreling down on his curiosity, 
as if on a mission to introduce Children At Play
to Jesus' knee before they ever have a chance
to wander past the age of innocence.

She'd never seen a man run so fast in her life.
He rescued that child — kickflipping into the past —
with a vengeance no hell could ever conquer. 

Boppa got one of those green turtles 
holding a warning flag after that. 

"Time flies when you're having fun."

Of course it does.
Of course it does. 

He shrugged it off — hating cliche —
not realizing that all things true
become trite for a reason before 
the sun sets on borrowed knowledge, and
one day, you wake up and
realize that the sun keeps setting and
rising and setting and
reminding you that you've spent a lifetime
wondering what yours would be like 
without realizing that this moment —
with your hands on your hips, 
conscious enough to have to work on your posture,
switching back and forth between 
thumbs facing forward, and back, and
dumbfounded at how the woman stood at her perch like that,
but more willing now to try her wisdom on for size.

The sun is always standing still.

You don't need plutonium. 

You and your grandmother are theories of relativity.

You can be a time-traveller if you want to be: 


That's all you have to do, 
and you won't. 

No one does. 

You can't, because
knowledge borrowed is not the same thing
as having to leave the party to drive your car
into a clock-tower.

But you will know, 
when the gnomon on your sundial 
casts a shadow the same length as those
in the crows' feet next to her projector,
(close both eyes, see with the other one)
that you've been here before. 

Time just... flies



👆 Day No. 02 of Austin Kleon's 30 Day "Practice and Suck Less" Challenge

This morning's exercise is inspired by Brian Macdonald's conversation with Claire Keane on the You Are A Storyteller: Masters of the Craft podcast, by Belief Agency, where they discussed the power of curiosity. Specifically, this section: 

Brian: As you get older, the sad thing is you say, "Boy, I wish I had known!" Then you see somebody younger and you basically say, "I'm from the future! You're going to want to pay attention to this!" And your past self says, "I don't think I'm going to listen to that." Maybe it's just a symptom of youth. 

Claire: But you have to go through it. 


My takeaway: Garnering advice from older people is wisdom distilled through time travel. So, I thought about one of my Gawa's (grandmother's) frequent reminders growing up — "Time flies when you're having fun." — and wrote about that [featuring, of course, Marty McFly, Biff Tannon, Doc Brown and (invisibly) Einstein, the Dog].

[Thumbnail / Cover photo by Alex Zarek.]