Hourglass, Pat Anthony

Dale Champlin, Green Fern Lady, Collage, 2021



No vestige of a cabin
remains where the lintel stone
            lies anchored to the prairie
by a tangle of coneflowers

no joists or tenons
            but just this
tracery of fossils chained through
lichened limestone

in a boring where a bolt might’ve been
the black widow rolls her eggs
            hope and death a red hourglass
sifting darkness.

Pat Anthony


Review by Paul Willis

I like the way the three stanzas of this poem gradually focus on things that become smaller in size and larger in significance.  First, we imagine the absent cabin, of which there is “no vestige” left except for “the lintel stone.”  Then we focus on the lintel itself, a “tracery of fossils chained through / lichened limestone.”  And finally, we examine a bored hole in the stone now occupied by a black widow, her eggs providing hope for her own future but her “red hourglass / sifting darkness” for humankind.  This final image of the hourglass becomes the well-chosen title, for the spider looms as the grim reaper adorned with the measurement of time.


Review by Massimo Fantuzzi

What will become of us? Time
passing, beloved, and we in a sealed
Assurance unassailed
By memory. How can it end,
This siege of a shore that no misgivings have steeled,
No doubts defend? (Donald Davie, Time passing, beloved)

Time underpins Motion, Motion substantiates Time.

The two, anchored, chained, exist and prosper outside our limited and brittle experience.

We look around, and that future tangle of coneflowers, tracery of fossils is building up, knocking at our door, reclaiming its ground. We look around, and one harsh truth is stripping the walls of our existence to its primary, only in appearance contrasting components of hope and death: somewhere in the future the sun will rise again and, taken the shape of a laborious spider rolling its eggs, Nature’s diligence and tirelessness will ensure itself a posterity. For nurseries, the nooks and crannies our civilization will have left behind. We look around: “the clock is ticking” (António Guterres).

Striking images and verses on the inevitability lurking behind the fence.


Review by Jared Pearce

Besides the compression of this poem, supported by how the syntax twists and turns as the piece progresses, I love the fun and surprising rhymes and other sound effects pulling the poem together, and find the final image of the spider’s egg-sack—the hope in the midst of the ruin—a wonderful bit of tension that illustrates life succinctly.



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