Yesterday I spent most of the day gathering together the lost hours from all of the beings that are in and around my house. ( In the UK we have a curious system of time, run by clocks, where once a year the hands of time are turned backwards at 2 am.)
There were four human hours, all different. Each of the hours I caught in a net and moulded into a solid small bead. There were four dog hours that looked a little lazy and ill formed and four cat hours, bright beads like amber. In corners, almost hidden, I found complicated, soft spider hours, fast and scuttling mouse hours and outside there were feathered, drowsy flicks of bird hours, huddled in bundles in warm places. The hours were all from two in the morning. The birds had been sleeping.
It was a warm night, so to add to my string there were aerymice hours from the fast furious hunters of the starlit sky. These were dark, almost so dark that you could not see them, only visible from eye corners. And there were owl hours, curved like claws with moonlight a crescent in their form, somewhere.
And because it was All Hallows Eve there were other hours around from people and creatures who had lived in the house far back to when the stones were gathered from the fields around and shaped into walls. These were the hardest to catch.
Each bright bead formed from stray hours was different in character from the next. Each I gathered to myself, greedy to capture more time for when I needed it. As I strung the hours together the weight of time grew heavy, the hours all lay, coiled around and upon each other, each more beautiful than the last.
By the end of the day I was tired but the moonjar was full and I had hopes of how to use all the time I had trapped. I have so much work to do. I have to finish A Rhyme In Time by the end of January so that it can go to press to be published in the autumn of next year. I have some other work that I must push forward on as my part of this is one of the building blocks of a major project and it cannot progress without some drawings, some paintings. There are paintings that I wish to do, friends who I want to spend my time with and I would like to get out and walk more. And above all I would like time to just sit and think, either at home in the silence of the house or on the hillside, above the sea.
So, I thought I would test my time machine. A mouse hour would be good. Small, and round, it flickered with a nervous energy as I popped it into my mouth and swallowed it down.
What happened next was hard to explain. Mice live in a different time zone from humans. I know that now. An hour was like a year, but I could not use it wisely. Instead I hurried fast around the house, nervously pulling at this and at that, jumping at every loud noise, a minute seeming to be an hour, heart beating faster than the ticking clock. A bird hour was more elegant, but no more use to a human. I just wanted to be out of the house and could almost feel the place where my wings should be, and I yearned for the sky. The hour of a bird trapped in a human throws itself against the cage of the body in its desire to be free.
It had been a good idea, had made a beautiful collection, but it would never work.
You just can't capture time, although, if you are lucky you can steal a little of someone else's with an elegant pattern of words.