Size / / /

I grip tight my pocket-watch and measure the passage of time. I am alive.
When I am not watching it does not always go ahead—
time loops back around, the past rising like a yeast foam head
feeding on my water-logged lungs and broken bones that have never fractured.
I have tried to make my peace with the passage of time
but we have not been quite square since the day I died.

The world moves ahead with another turn of the cog. I am alive.
Yet I am always returning to when the world smashed headlong
into her bloodstained sister and skidded down a riverbank into knee-deep snow.
I am always waking up tilted sideways, as dead as I am deaf from adrenaline—
but I am always waking up. The dead must sleep eternally.
Yet I feel what we immigrants know: the dead are waking all the time.
They are only sleeping, or on a journey, and come when they are called:
when the drummer loses himself in the drum, when the cake is cut but not yet eaten,
when the peppered rum has no bite, or the mask makes a familiar man strange.
And like a spirit summoned up for a night ride or a holy visitation
I am never more present than when someone is saying my name
and when no one speaks to me, I am not sure I am here at all.

The minute turns over, one later than before. I am alive.
I am not in February's car, centimeters from a sapling.
I am not spinning away from a stone wall that will crush me.
This accident is a fixed outcome, observation changes nothing.
My heart still beats, I still breathe, time keeps pulling me along.
Yet like a ghost, I revisit my death again, again:
2 o'clock in the afternoon no matter if it is dark or bright
and it is always winter, cold with freezing rain, the road as slick as I am tired—
but the watch-hand moves. Never again will it be that February, even when it is raining.
I have never died beside the stream, though I am lying there even now.

Cycling like the second-hand, I repeat. I am alive.



Lev Mirov is a disabled mixed race Filipino-American who feeds the ghosts of Antietam when it rains. He lives with his spouse and writing partner Aleksei I. Valentin and is preparing their first book, The God of Small Things, for release in early 2017. For more of his poetry, recent or upcoming short fiction, and the book, read at or follow on Twitter at @thelionmachine.
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