IN THIS SINGLE HOUR

WHAT’S THE LIFESPAN OF A BUTTERFLY, or of veined architecture in sand, or of the music of a poem, or a song? Here today, gone tomorrow, if they live that long.

A large and beautiful butterfly battled against a stiff wind on the beach the other day, and the miraculous creature has since loomed large in my mind. It seemed there was both physical strength and purpose in this tiny life’s fluttering. The “will” to live was plain. And huge effort involved in the living. And for how long? May Sarton, life-long poet and author, in her late eighties, learned another take on temporality:

Now there is time and
Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself …

May Sarton
from Now I Become Myself

Further along the beach, on that same walk, I photographed the Atlantic’s own tidal art-work in damp sand. I think it marvellous and extraordinary that in countless such acts of creation, every moment, every day, something of beauty and of outstanding merit is brought to birth, whether or not a single soul notices, for a nanosecond, its glory or its worth. The same ocean that supports the great liners plying the waters between continents, is also home to dolphins just off-shore here, and – more delicately – carves temporary filigree, spectacularly and consistently, in rock and in sand. In this single hour I live all of myself:

Stand still, stand still
and stop the sun!

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Fuerteventura, Spain