umthink, umbethink

What, between two half-minutes, do you turn away to take to mind? What moments do you look to see receding in the farther distance? What memories do you seek the sea-bound masts of from the high perch of your stolen moments? Do you recall a word from a high-school crush on the stairway between classes, or the taste of cold lunch in an alpine meadow? Grass on the back of your head with a lake a distance downslope, or a steady stare across a table at a spark you never talked to again? An almost-accidental hand caress as you passed a glass, or the musty mythic smog smell of an ancient city visited for the first time? A word misspoken once and regretted needlessly at flashing moments in heavy traffic, or a defiant dance in a nightclub with a half-stranger?

Proust ate some French pastry or toast, I’m told, and it made him think of things. I need no such starch to fuel my umthinking. I may umbethink myself of any old moment at any new moment; my memory is an effervescent glass and the past is the gas – or perhaps it is more a thick old stew burping in a pot at the merest stir.

I look up from the words on my screen, I look away, I look over the shoulder of my mind, to hear a voice of a person long buried calling me to remember them just for these twelve seconds. We are told to live in the now, but life is only a long pulled taffy of nows, and what if now and again it bends back to touch another now? I can umthink, I can umbethink myself; I can, um, think, and, um, be thinking myself somewhere I am not standing at the moment.

These words, umthink and umbethink. The think is obvious, the um and umbe are about from old. The latter, umbethink, is still with us, I am told; it is a reflexive referring to reflecting, calling to mind. The former, umthink, is obsolete, obelisked, been but not to be any more, but in its transit it could be intransitive. I do not mind using it, calling it to mind, staring one more time after its sail at the horizon’s edge. For a moment its now is now again.

One response to “umthink, umbethink

  1. Joy Hamilton

    Beautiful words! Not unlike the name Unthank.

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