Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 13
Fall 2015

[Two Poems]

by Nina Lindsay

Three Ideas About Time

The stranger who won’t meet your eye
is afraid of growing old. Each time you try
and fail, time slips its gear.

When the look catches, time engages,
rolls. And that’s how we move forward,
along its sloppy, ill-tended track.


Those who’d like to cheat time try
to fix our place in it.
But it has no place. The only trick:

to see its shadow
through as many eyes as possible, at once.
Then, you might glimpse

its soft, unending back
curving up 
out of the invisible, rippled surface of itself.


I’ve been watching a pair of mockingbirds
go back and forth in the bougainvillea, for days
forming a nest.

Because I am no birder, I can’t tell
the female from the male.  I know there’s two, but which
now, and now,

I lost track of long ago.
Progress: in each moment the nest is still
but just the other day it wasn’t there at all.

Bird comes, goes—
Bird comes, goes,



Number 11

It takes as long as it takes.
The ink to first rush to the point of the pen.

Your legs to carry you to the farther stop,
to catch the Limited. The purchase order

to be filled with the correct account numbers.
The grudge to be filed until it’s just a shining trace,

and shows more your own
reflection than itself.

It takes as long as it takes to bestow
enough love upon those you love, and to learn to do your job

as if it were not second nature.
To intuit the best lunch spot for each day’s work,

to get there, to order. Here, the meat is pre-cooked
but the fish they don’t grill till you order your burrito

and the woman at the counter leans back to the stove
and yells Pescado! And that’s why it’s good.

And that’s why you came. 
So if you were in such a hurry, you shouldn’t have ordered the fish.


SHJ Issue 13
Fall 2015

Nina Lindsay

is the author of two poetry collections, Today’s Special Dish and the forthcoming Because, both from Sixteen Rivers Press. Her poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, Poetry International, Colorado Review, Fence, Rattle, and other journals. She is a librarian in Oakland, California.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury