Man Before the Infinite, 1950

(after Rufino Tamayo’s painting El hombre frente al infinito, 1950)

Why does time go so slow he asks 

                                                         and then

let’s do it again 

                           that was too quick 


do we grow older 

                               last year’s pants an inch

too short 

                 now his great grandfather a fresh


        I suppose to give you time to be

Death for Halloween and to eat candy

the first week of November last month 

he fell while riding his scooter to school

his face bruised 

                           mouth bleeding teeth jostled loose

but intact 

                 this is 

how one learns 

                          one’s place in the world depends

on perception and knowing when to look

at one’s feet and when to stare at the flames

despite all the warnings and all the signs

professing a certainty that 

                                             in all


                    will be nothing more

than tea candles in hollow gourds

Matthew Woodman teaches writing at California State University, Bakersfield and is an editor at Rabid Oak; his writing appears in recent issues of Storm Cellar, MORIA, Mojave Heart Review, and Central American Literary Review, and more of his work can be found at