I just turned the hour glass that A gave me as a birthday present. Sand as white and fine as salt pours in a line with speed and persistence – the tiniest cascade. At first the fallen grains scatter to the edges of the lower glass – a ring of time. Now they are a mountain -- a volcano, actually, with smooth sloping sides. Its perfect cone shifts from time to time under the accumulating layers of white crystal—earthquakes as regular as clockwork. Above, what was once a dimple in the sky is now a crater. Sand cascades. The crater deepens, grows more profound. Individual grains of sand cling by static to the glass. Are they afraid of the jump, the plunge? Or just the passage of time – the inevitable change that it brings as the sand in the glass, like everything, runs out?
I wonder what would happen if I broke the glass. The volcano would escape. The crater in the sky would collapse. The white dust of time would spill across my living room table, onto the floor where feet would track it across the house and grind it into the rug. Drafts would waft it like smoke. Individual grains would cling by static to books and plants and furniture. I’d be finding white sand in corners forever – an unending purgatory of dusting. Time would be free – or lost.
Inside the glass, the process begins again. The volcano grows in layers of fine sand. The crater dimples and empties. The geological work of epics is condensed, once again, into minutes, restarted by a simple motion – I turned the glass. It’s comforting. Sure. Contained. A decorative knick knack on my living room table.