The Dawn of Time

It had always been twilight
and it would always be twilight, God’s
hour or the dinosaurs’ or, more
likely, just the sweet unending
amoeba’s, as each split itself
off from the original and eternal
cell: one myriad amoeba
on the rocking sea-face
and the faint glint of stars
never setting, circling
the pole like a bear’s hip,
a water wheel. Then,
change. Then
some primordial ape-animal
standing out on the sandy
cape of forever looked over
her shoulder and said,
in her clumsy grunt,
“yesterday . . . ”
She didn’t know what she had
started. Probably she only
meant to say, “yesterday
was like today,” but it was enough.
The sea began to heave.
The endless twilight began
to end, peeling westward
like stripped skin. The stars
covered their eyes as the new
thing dragged up
its bloody, fiery crown
out of the deep. Gears clashed
in the brightening air, deadlines
for reports began to pour
in, atoms everywhere synchronized
their watches for millennia
of slow, precise decay,
as out at the rim of every
thing, never to set
or stop again, time dawned
into the ticking day.

Catherine Carter’s first collection of poetry was The Memory of Gills, and her second, The Swamp Monster at Home, is forthcoming in Spring 2012.