“Our Double Time” by Micheal O’Siadhail


As a young man I always had a
terrible fear of death. In fact as a boy and right through my youth death haunted
me in many ways, and in 1987 I had a sudden troubles with my heart, I was
rushed into emergency care and fortunately it was got in time. It could
kill you within 24 hours but if you got in time it was fine. And when I came
out I started to think about this whole thing of mortality and human finitude
and tried to face up to it in a book called “Our Double-Time.” And the more I
thought about it, it seemed to me that if you could face finitude– because a lot of
our society tries to avoid is I think by all sorts of things by, well, by drink, by
drugs, but of course the most acceptable drug is overwork. And we avoid facing
this idea of our own mortality. So I wrote this book called “Our Double-Time,” and I want to read from the title poem, and the idea is really that if you face that finitude you can not only taste each moment but you can also
savor it, and in this sense double your time. A morning leaving hospital suddenly
the light, the breath, the height, the breadth, the depth. Autumn of my overhaul
when senses seem to double Rilke was right. Some fruit and me keeps ripening for a mellow fall. Scalpel and needle of growth, a wound suture, etched wonder of
what’s both brittle and finite. Two girls linking arms and so full of the future, the unbearable joy of a shoe-mat’s crimson light. Had I been too busy to notice all
this before? Too concerned to catch the obvious rhyme? Everything vibrates: a voice, a scent, a color, charged and marvelous. Everything in double-time! To have been to the edge, just to be allowed to return to moments of utter in-love-ness utter unconcern. And yet, nothing for granted. A face of a friend, a glance, a touch, a word, *speaks French* time doubled in the light of our
open end. The day, nor hour, nor how the going will be. A sudden cut and tumble, a
flickering tragedy. My heart knows brokenness and still rejoices, but will these lines yet haunt a coward in me? Whatever, whenever I trust I’ll hear my
voices. Does Rilke’s inner fruit now slowly mature, seeding and settling along
working within? So in the meantime, friends, just to be sure, kiss me, caress me, stroke the outer skin, fondle this husk and pod, my spirit cell, warm the gourd still ripening in its shell. Here is my life, these my friends and
voices, no fixed measures, just moving with the word as though I belong
in counter-pointed noises one of those fervent motets of William Byrd. Across all the Aeons my one humming breath poised in this
motet steady, even sublime. To think this year would have been my fiftieth. From now every single moment are double time, not that I’ve grown blase or no longer
care. More, a deeper listening to a music’s densities. No matter how or when,
no matter where. That feel of a line sung with consummate ease. I love and am loved. All my tininess rejoices that I’ll have been a voice among your voices

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