Dawn of millennium, sidereal time
defeated the calendar: no computer
crashed, no plane fell, not a single
mortgage payment reversed to 1900—
as if clocks might control the night.
So what if we renamed Two Thousand
as Nineteen Hundred, 2001 as 1901:
Would McKinley be elected president?
Would Rough Riders gallop to Baghdad,
maybe return Guantanamo to Spain?
Trust the Pentagon to prove the frailty
of mortal time, announcing 12-months
tour of duty in Iraq really meant fifteen,
although no soldier actually gets a day
added to his precarious life, but simply
calls one day by another, as Leap Day
makes February almost normal, and yet
a soldier born on the twenty-ninth isn't
treated one-fourth the age of March first
babies nor hitches up four times as long.
So what if that tour of duty becomes an
adjustable promissory note, few pennies
percent skimmed from the balance, help
the federal budget, Uncle Sam won't go
broke, hardly anyone loses, unless a poor
immigrant private first class gets clipped
by a delayed time bomb. Will the widow
live only three months more without him?
In a century, who'll know the difference?
Time's plastic, and no grief lasts forever.