National Poetry Month · Writing

Distance —National Poetry Month Day 13

As a child I developed random systems of measurement.

First, they began with distance.

I counted fence posts, sidewalk cracks, footsteps, stairs, doorways, windows,

to quantify how long until I reached home, how long until I reached—

where? Surely it started with tracking the distance to home?

At some point it moved beyond tracking the distance.

I counted everything obsessively.  Seconds into minutes.

Minutes into hours. Hours into weeks, into months into years into…

well, back to seconds.

Distance turned into time because time was how I measured

how much longer I had to wait.

I felt like I was always waiting.

Waiting for someone to show up,

waiting for someone to leave —

I’m not sure which I wanted more, the coming or the going.

It probably depended on the day and the person.

I’m always counting the distance– the distance

until the end of whatever I’m having to put up with at the moment.

the distance until I get to a point where I’m not anxious,

afraid, bored, angry, lonely, and longing.

Maybe this is why I like to run and swim.

I can count the footsteps and strokes until I’m in a meditative trance

and I can forget the distance.


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