Jim Harrison wrote in his poem, “Time”—

Time sinks slowly to the deepest part 
of the ocean, the Mariana Trench. 
She’s tired of light and there it’s pure black…She feels 
abused by clocks. They were never meant 
to be. She preferred us drifting through 
our lives like clouds, without dials, 
machinery, alarms, riding her 
like the gentlest of horses….
—Jim Harrison, Dead Man’s Float

But I am very mindful of time. I am not tired of light — except on Friday nights when I am so exhausted I want only to cover my eyes and float into oblivion — and sometimes on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings when chaos rises out of nowhere and disrupts the peace that might otherwise reign. So, except in moments of exhaustion and chaos, I am not tired of light.


Evening Light: Blatnik Bridge over St Louis River. Duluth, MN to Superior, WI


I do sometimes feel abused by clocks, but only because 24 hours dictate the passing of a day and 365 days dictate the passing of a year and 90-92 days dictate the turn of the seasons, and the passing of seasons causes me pain. But even in this pain, if I can hold my breath and empty my mind of expectation, if I can look wholly and completely at the goldenrod flowering at summer’s end or accept the days shortening with each passing dawn or allow the yellowing aspens to speak of frost that is soon to come — if I can hold my breath and empty my mind of expectation, I find I am able to make my way around the pain.



Time is what she is; so, except for the limited hours in a day and number of days in a year, and the finality of the seasons, I do not feel abused by clocks. I welcome them; for without clocks, I would drift through my life like a cloud. I would not be mindful that this thought needs writing or my son’s birthday needs recognizing or supper needs making or that my time on this earth is short and must be lived to the fullest.

Time measured by the passing of light tells me that time is short. Time measured by the ticking of the clock reminds me that this moment is to be lived.


August Sunflowers at Dawn


Harrison, Jim. “Time.” Dead Man’s Float, 50. Port Townsend: Copper Canyon Press, 2018.

2 thoughts on “Time

  1. That ending line really got me. Thank you for a powerful post. I needed to read this today to give me some inspiration. Thank you for taking the time to carefully craft this. Take care!


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