If I Could Stop
by Mary C. McCarthy

If I could rewind time
like thread on an empty spool
until I reach that vanished hour
before we knew how soon
our worlds were set to fall
like ruined castles
into heaps of broken stone

Before we knew Death
had his foot in the door
and would take you slow
bite by bite
over a long year
while we stood hopeless
with our love and grief
in our arms
and nothing good enough
to save you

If I could perfectly remember
how we breathed then
how the light felt
as it fell on us
on the world before
death left us open and empty
aching like a tooth
broken on a stone
in the bread
the first of many
unexpected losses
nothing can forgive.

IMAGE: “The Golden Hours” by John William Godward (1913).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In this poem I am thinking about a sort of “golden hour” for my family, a time that was soon followed by a string of calamities and losses, illnesses and deaths that changed and diminished us in terrible and permanent ways. The wish is to somehow restore things to that moment, to travel back to a kinder and less painful world. Of course none of that kind of magic works, time is stubborn in its insistence on going in one direction only.


Mary C. McCarthy
has always been a writer, but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. She has had work included in many on line and print journals, including Gnarled Oak, Third Wednesday, The Evening Street Review, Expound, and Earth’s Daughters. She spends her time on writing and drawing, and has high hopes for a better world, despite the daily news, filled with reports of war and other calamities.

PHOTO: The author on vacation at Daytona Beach, Florida.