I went looking for a poem about time because, as we are all painfully aware, this week is our first week on Daylight Saving Time.
(Not "Daylight Savings Time," because it is, as Kent of VEEP so helpfully points out, "neither plural nor possessive.")
Daylight Saving Time provokes all manner of thought and emotion in me. I get tired, I rail and rage against this attempt to harness and control the uncontrollable. After a day or two of (exhausting) railing and raging, I collapse. I nap. Then I ponder time and the endless ways we reflect on it. My hunt for "poems about time" led me to this one in the 1923 issue of Poetry Magazine and also left me wondering who Laura Landis Laedlein was. All I could find out about her was this brief bio in the magazine: "Miss Laura Landis Laedlein is a business woman in Williamsport, Pa."
I hope that Laura Landis Laedlein made the most of her time in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. I hope she had the time of her life writing poetry and that she spent time rejoicing when this one was published in Poetry magazine. I hope her time as a business woman was successful and that perhaps she saw a kindred spirit in Wallace Stevens, he of insurance/poetry fame. I hope she knows she did what poets do: she touched eternity in a small, human way — she reached out, hand stretched across so many decades, and handed me this poem, a hundred years after its publication, on a day when I was thinking about time and its odd and poignant hold on us.
Thank you, Miss Laura Landis Laedlein, for taking the time to write a poem. Thank you for setting aside time to submit your poem to Poetry magazine. Thank you for whatever else you did in Williamsport, Pennsylvania and I hope that your time on this earth was, as Mary Oliver would want it to be for you, wild and precious.
by Laura Landis Laedlein
Across the day:
Hand-linked they run, and light-footed;
I see the procession of the years
Masked, they lean forward, and press onward,
A marching train.
I see the backward path centuries have come
To where I stand;
And, holding the present, touching eternities
With my hand.