Poets’ Corner: Time Machine


Held in place by lengths of rusty chain, each stretched so tight

between two sturdy trees, a black pine left, a white oak right.

There hangs an old rope hammock, a familiar sight since when

it was hung there one summer, then summer and summer again.

To some it’s been a resting place, for respite or afternoon nap.

But if I were asked I’d have to say it’s been far more than that.

Even now as I run my hand over the netting of knotted strings

the coarseness of the weave recalls the song the hammock can sing.

A melody comes on the August breeze, a whispered, “Climb aboard.

I’ll take you back to when for a little boy I opened imagination’s door.”

To a summer’s day when having no friend to play or book to read,

he wandered across the lawn to this magic place between the trees.

To this hammock full of memories that became his time machine,

a mystical thing that could take him far, to places he’d never seen.

Sometimes it became a topsail galley and he the pirate brave

Hard at the helm of his storm tossed ship racing from wave to wave.

Or leading the circus parade, up on the elephant’s back he’d ride

swaying in rhythm to and fro with each of the great beast’s strides.

Oh, the memories that this old hammock brings and enables me to see

back in time to those summer days to when that little boy was me.

Douglas Cann is a retired architect. He and his wife had a vacation home on the Vineyard for 35 years and are currently making the transition to living here full time.