Jane Zwart

Half the Time
September 24, 2022 Zwart Jane

Half the Time


In an emergency
the brain snaps pictures


at twice its normal speed.
Say a van swerves,


sparing a deer.
Sky and earth and sky


will tumble slow before
the man inside.


After, too,
the scene will screen


only in slo-mo.
I think of him


as a leaf does flips
under a maple’s shape.


Something about this calm,
this light: the leaf


in somersault
is exactly like


a home movie
of a leaf in somersault.


I watch it fall in a strobe
of blinking


and of sight;
the yellow glider drops


the same as if its shape
were burned


into a length of celluloid
shot in Super-8–


instead of colored


on my retinas.
I know why:


the quiet mind
lays memories lazily down,


snagging pictures
from time’s current


only half the time.
A quiet mind,


like a camera trained
on conflagrations


topping cakes,
it nictitates


in such a way
that joy, reseen,


will only screen
in flickering and a rush.

Jane Zwart teaches at Calvin University, where she also co-directs the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing. Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, and Poetry, as well as other journals and magazines.