“Over Time” by Martha Collins

October 2004


Not much. Less. Slip
of a finger, diminished
interval, maybe third

of three or two.

Water mirrors house with high
green door opening out (no

steps) into pure air.


Air pockets three
hawks. Cat got
the bird got the cat.

Overflown. A habit
of flight. Worn cloud
on the edge of edge.

Wisps. Little tongues.


Tongues at work. Talk Today

She could did for an hour or more.

My first her, who gave me words.

Then at the end, before, merely Oh!

A moment of…of more, perhaps.

Oh sweet and blessed could be.

Oh my soul


Soul slept, called in sick

Late sun clouds
the lack with clouds.

Katydid down
to —did —did

Nothing to be done.

Little sun, quarter moon.


Moon covered, un-
covered, covered again, cold.

Cold and hot, very and both.

Disturbed the Sea of Tranquility.

Distributed by the Moon Shop.

Distributed self in pieces.

Oh my broken.


Broken down, or out, as in
war, or into, soon: my own him.

How much we carry around
under our skins, many
we were, girls and boys

Now now

And then then.


Then gone and then to come:
all the time, except the split
second, except—

All the time in the world.

And out of this world?

Oh little heart on my wrist, where are we going?


Going home: packed her bags
to go back ninety years

burning skirt broken fork
slow train the old house

current counter under cross

The one who gave me time

is out of time.


Time to shut the rattling
windows slamming doors

And if at first you don’t and if
you try again and don’t you
slip a little slide

Rope burns hands over
the book the pages over


Over time she—
Overtime. Timer
she was Click I mean

I. Would work the week
long song bird in the—

Burning bush ahead, red
sumac jeweled by sun.


Sun, here come the clouds
again. Between us. You

could care: you’ll swallow
us up on your way out.

You’re almost halfway
there, and here

am I, way past half.


Half-life, half-light, half-
moon, half-mast: low

flag, and every evening down.

Discovered a world of green
in him, on the shore
of newfound skin

His different hand


Hand over hand
over: change
for an empty

Enter the bare page

Oh keep him safe
in his thin shift
on his metal bed


Bed for one, my very
one, own, oh let

him let him

Someone’s deep inside
him now, something

inside him’s taken is
it is he let him breathe


Breath light hold
in the light: him at bandaged
rest, her last year in her

last bed: the apple pink
just under the skin: I

am floating again a little less
less the chord resolving.


Resolved, that leaves should turn

and turn: color to motion to rest.

Flutter of yellow, flash of red, bronze-

leafed trunk fallen across the path.

Ducks twitch white tails over the water,

geese stretch necks…All fall down.

All rise. All different.


Different from us. Dry,
quiet. Still. Still

Freeman Sarah Rebekah John

locust maple hornbeam oak

Timothy. Bent grass under
our feet, over their bones.

Katheryn. Out of. Under and over.


Over my— my tiny
planet, growing colder, little

train that could but where’s
the track? On, off

again, over my, un-
done, nerve

flinched at No. But maybe If—


If. Only. Then
again. But out

of time just now as
the lace of yellow locust

leaves molecules
particles waves catches

its breath begins to hum.


Hum of words
under words: brief
for breath, him

for hum, him still
in his bed for one—

And clouds so thick and fast
the whole sky’s turning.


Turning now to the newsy world the Red
Sox take last four claim pennant countries
taken in or out people counted no
count bombing voting mission killing
vision blurred our leader says God says
had hatred in his heart he said rage
testosterone he said our leader vote for God


God is not a Republican
Democrat Yankee Red
Sox fan of him or her—

But him is whom our bed
is holding, him my one is home
again, oh bless him keep him safe

this little time that is our life.


Lifetime, timeline, line-
up, down time, no time

to lose time, all time gone.

More of them, body count a full
count, bases loaded, all bets

off, one by one, or war
time lots, all at once.


Once there was a girl, a boy, end
of story in one first word, once

she was and nothing’s left of her except

me oh my and her him too: her last

days he also came all back to me but

now my own him is here is not
once upon but times many.


Many, as in instances, or all,
one, as in passing, as in course of:

two words for time, in Vietnamese,
but one for all the times to do,
for go went gone, as in, this colder

day, the geese: only ducks and gulls
on the little pond, its tiny island.


Island’s I, for all
the thinking not (no man
no self). Island’s home,

at least for some. But here’s
a little boat for back and forth

with one beside, rowing through
the eventide, the late evening.


Evening out. On
the town, out of town:

city wearing your black
dress sequined with lights, I

am coming down for an even-
ing out, in bed beside.

The rest: held by, holding.


Holding on the Red
Sox won eclipsing even the full

eclipsed moon a moment outside
the trouble we’ve seen through the TV had

to bring in the war the war that people
believe is good because they want
to believe it’s a winning team


Teeming with leaves, trees
and gold all gold

around gray stones: I
am greeting my last
neighbors, we shall

all be changed, pieces
of gold slipping into air.


Airborn, air-born, hand-
sized cradle to hold
a soul, no broken-

bough fall. Good
news today, but best

in the air, this old
new leaf, turning it over.


Over and over again
and again, time

after time, stone
upon hallowed stone.

More than bones, ghost-
thin skin, I’m here, much

less less. Not yet not.

—Martha Collins, from Day Unto Day (Milkweed Editions, 2014)