The Valve

The one-way flow of time we take for granted, 
but what if the valve is defective? What if the threads 
on the stem wear thin, or the stuffing box or the bonnet 
ring leaks, or the joints to the pipe ring fail, 
and there's a backwash?
                         It happens.
                                   And then old loves,
meeting again, have no idea what to do, 
resuming or not resuming from where they were 
years before. Or the dead come back to chat. 
Or you are reduced for a giddy moment to childhood's 
innocent incompetence. You look up
as if to see some hint in the sky's blackboard. 
But then, whatever it was, some fluff or grit 
that clogged the works, works free, and again time passes, 
almost as before, and you try to get on with your life.

From Falling from Silence by David R. Slavitt. Copyright © 2001 by David R. Slavitt. Reproduced with permission of Louisiana Sate University Press. All rights reserved.