When Time Slows Down

By Lawrence Raab

Now I’m lying in a narrow hospital bed,
waiting for the first tests to come back,
raising the cup of apple juice to my lips,
then setting it back on the table
very carefully. I’ve been watching
a large round clock, so much like

the clocks in the schoolrooms
of childhood, where the big hand clicked
loudly as another minute was forced into place.
Was it fourth grade or fifth?

And I’m still waiting, unable to recall

why I’ve been sent to the principal’s office,
one future after another sweeping past me
as I stare at his door until
finally I’m there and he says,
So let’s hear your side of the story.
Whatever I did is gone, but not

the certainty of time slowing down,
or the desire to rise from my chair
—or now this bed—and float
outside, unfettered
and careless, beyond judgment or change.

Lawrence Raab is the author of seven collections of poems, including What We Don’t Know About Each Other, a winner of the National Poetry Series and a Finalist for the National Book Award. His most recent books are The History of Forgetting (Penguin, 2009) and A Cup of Water Turns into a Rose, a long poem published as a chapbook by Adastra Press (2012). His next full-length collection, entitled Or So It Seemed To Me Then, will appear from Tupelo Press in 2015. He is the Harry C. Payne Professor of Poetry at Williams College.

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