Descend from mountaintop glaciers and track the running stream. Pass the caves of lime that gush with clouded water. Come to the sluiceway hollowed by labourers who felt, in their time, the earth shake before the horde of Genghis Khan. Stand upon the cantilevered outcrop and overlook the terraced palm groves; to do this is to gaze upon a wonder, a monument from an age of gold.
Rivers drool from the mouths of stone lions to turn the wheels that have endured longer than living memory. Axels and gears gyre and spin; cogs meet and come around again. So have the centuries.
Medieval pistons, on the hour, push air into gold-leafed songbirds; hear the winds coo through the valves in their throats.
You came to the mountain for solitude. Now, on this bench, under the shade of a lemon tree, you expect consolation. We all must watch our beloveds die; you knew you were not alone in your grief. But still you wait, watching the galaxies crawl.
Do you recall the position of the stars on the last clear night? Gaze upon the circular painted face of the ingenious clock. These were the constellations of your birth day. The Ram dances with the Bull, the Twins, and the Crab, as the central axle keeps time with the heavens, turning at the pace of an aching snail. It has never stopped.
Here is eternity. It is no place to live. Gather your robes; mount your mule. Descend into the fields and slow streams of the world. Not always does time kill slowly or so sweetly; not in a world ravaged under hoof and sword.
Bear this garden down from the mountain. It will not save you. But it might carry you through.
Matthew Rettino has written poetry for Scrivener Creative Review and The Veg literary magazine. His most recent publication was “The Goddess in Him” (NewMyths.com, 2020), a short story about a time-traveling Scythian refugee living in Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood. A graduate of McGill University and the Odyssey Writing Workshop (’16), he currently works as a pedagogical councillor at Dawson College and teaches occasionally at the Thomas More Institute in Montreal.