Give us the gift of an hourglass, the curve of its translucent neck.
The slow trickle of its promise.
Every ordinary wonder of every ordinary day.  
This will be our way of counting second chances.  
The measurements we need surround us,  
In the sun’s steady incline, a child chasing her own shadow, 
In the scattered fall of reddening leaves,  
The regularity of rattling trains and holiday decorations.  

Phone lines crackle. Connections flutter.  
Time spent alone can be an airless room.  
Togetherness is a language we relearn. These are odd days,  
Of stumbling over our words, our intentions, 
Of inventing new vocabularies of distant, digital bonds.  
A unity in separation.  
Veils of difference dissolve like borders 
Between bedrooms and conference rooms, Between kitchens and classrooms,  
Between neighbours and friends.  
Live like eager seedlings, giving ourselves up to the light 
Glittering ahead. The shifting of priorities.  
The choices we still have.  
Believe because we must.  

Give us the morning’s daily promise of reinvention.  
This knowledge that we can lick our wounds, try again.  
Grief may thicken, may be hard to swallow. Better to share it 
In familiar routines.  
Swear by the little things, tea-stained afternoons,  
Board games around busy tables, the inviting scent  
Of freshly baked bread.  
A shy fox nudging its wet snout against a row of violets,  
Collecting dewdrops on its pink tongue.  
All that is wild returns, resurfaces  
From the hush of devastation.  

We are lost in the losing, 
Only to find each other in sterile waiting rooms,  
The quiet of clinics and queues.  
Welcomed by a family of frontline defenders, 
We await a dawn we can once again claim.  
Its rays will spill across our faces. A touch to warm the skin,  
To make it sing.  

Artistic Statement

This pandemic has alerted me to the passing of time like never before. How I spend it, who I spend it with, what I spend it on. Sometimes, time stretches like an endless expanse. Sometimes, it flies by. Many of us have become more intentional with our timekeeping, more aware of each milestone. I believe there’s hope in knowing that whatever happens, time will pass. We will hug again, and even hold hands. Time is a reassuring constant. With each new day, I am choosing to look forward and believe in its promise. This poem is a ticking reminder. 

Artist Biography

Momtaza Mehri is a poet, essayist and independent researcher.

Her work has appeared in the likes of Granta, Artforum, The Guardian, BOMB Magazine, and The Poetry Review. She is the former Young People’s Laureate for London and columnist-in-residence at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's Open Space, as well as a Frontier-Antioch Fellow at Antioch University. Her latest pamphlet, Doing the Most with the Least, was published by Goldsmiths Press. 

 

Read the other poems here:

Survive(d) – Hanna Ali

ধন্যবাদ – Nazneen Ahmed

MementoUs – Keisha Thompson

Now এই সময় – Eeshita Azad

Back to the project overview