Smoke rises in such swirls, and in India, along the Ganges, the bodies of the dead are burned
with the prayers of the living, so that the smoke rising upward carries both,
and they are bound together always, and there is no death because there is no time.
Once I saw a wallpaper pattern that looked like time, baroque curlicues coiling and twisting,
and for a while I was lost in it and thought it must be memory that draws such intricate designs,
and I wondered about the complexity that I could only see up close.
The stuff we are made of twines like this, but much more perfectly,
and the complexity is hidden in the coils, itself coiled finer and finer to infinity it seems,
holding memory, the gestures and tics and blemishes of our grandmothers, the blue
or brown or grey of the eye.
Do such swirls move the stones in a riverbed, or do they tumble haphazardly?
Or is there a place where all the stones are the same tumbling the same way?
If you look at the water too hard and too long, following the whorls and eddies, maybe
you feel a wave of vertigo, and you must wonder if the wave is caused by those same swirls,
the fluid in the cochlea, that delicate spiral, swirling like water in a seashell, swirling like time.
Is it the stopping and looking that causes the rush,
and is it better to stand back and watch the stones all move together,
with the water, the fish, the clouds, and you, breathing and thinking and speaking the same swirls?
In order to remember what may or may not have happened before or after you stopped
and looked and stared at the tumbling rocks, the swirling water, and thought you forgot yourself.
Would you return to that place if you could, of forgetting, where
it is only the swirling water or the rising smoke? Or would words always call you
back and remind you, amid a swirl of images, who, or is it when, you really are?