by David B. Prather

—a trillionth of a billionth of a second, or

a decimal point followed by 70 zeroes and a 1


Contrary to reason, everything

gets smaller. The house no longer

holds my every breath. My father’s soul

shrinks in his body, the last few crumbs

of mercy. It’s been reported that time

is shattered further, a glass bottle

broken over and over to dust,

then atoms, then particles of collision

and theory. If I keep dividing the space

between my father and me, I will never arrive.

Maybe I can stretch time the same way

if I experience each moment.

But even a moment is too long. It must be

torn down to its infinitesimal parts,

so I could stay there forever, whatever

that may be. How can the universe keep

expanding, giving us more room

to explore? And tons of dust fall

through the atmosphere to add mass

to the earth, which causes a heaviness

I cannot get out from under. Out from under,

a salamander wriggles from the shadow

of one rock to the shadow of another.

The shadow of my father.

For no reason I can think, I waste

even the smallest pieces of time.

David B. Prather (he/him) is a bipolar, Appalachian poet living in Parkersburg, WV, where he occasionally struts and frets upon the stage at the Actors Guild of Parkersburg community theater.

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