The poet is a person who has been left perhaps by a lover or a close friend and is really missing her. The title of the poem “time/space” means that the space that was left in the poet’s heart after the departure of the subject is closing as time goes by. According to the poem, the poet used to live with the lover and it seems he was enjoying every moment they spent together and the departure affected him greatly. He describes the departure of that person as “….a cavity drilled through tooth to nerve and left raw to the shrinking air”. This is to show the pain he is undergoing. From the literal meaning of the imagery, we can all imagine the pain one can undergo if a cavity is drilled.
He compares the pain to that of a tooth with a cavity that goes to the nerves. This pain is usually unbearable since the nerves are very sensitive when tampered with. The poet also describes the nature of the absence as big as his mouth when it is wide open. We can all imagine a mouth which is wide open as well as its shape, where he says that the pain was equivalent to shape of the mouth. This is imagery and it means that the pain had reached its peak and the poet was left desperate. According this image, there is no other pain that could be compared to the pain he was experiencing. By comparing the pain to the shape of the mouth, the poet tries to show that the pain he felt affected every part of his body given the shape of a wide-open mouth that is either round or oval in shape.
The poet goes further to express his pain as a sullen place of a tooth extracted. By the word sullen, he tries to show that he was left in an unhappy mood and is not willing to talk. A person whose tooth has been extracted is always in a very bad mood and does not talk much since talking brings more pain to the mouth. The poet says that he tries to find out the truth as to why the lover left him and he compares the pain to that of that of a mutilated tooth which must be unbearable. He also compares the pain to that of a molar with a twisted root hooked round the jawbone. This makes the poem to have a sympathetic tone. We can all sympathize with a person with such a description. He compares the pain to that of a tooth to show that there was fondness between two and that they used to take care of each other before the incident happened.
We are all attached very much to our teeth since we have had them for a long time and when a tooth is removed we feel great loss and we are not able to eat all that we used to eat. The same happens to the poet whose life has suddenly changed and is finding difficulties in adapting the new life without his lover or his close friend. He continues to describe his pain as that of a bone that has broken leaving behind fragments or little pieces from the larger bone.
He says that the fragments are still being seen and are continuously appearing on the surface. By getting the literal meaning, a broken bone can be very painful and we would hate to have such an experience where our bones break. He is trying to tell us that the lover’s departure cannot be easily forgotten. That it is pain that he will experience forever since a broken bone cannot be replaced. Once a bone is broke, a person will limp forever. That is the reason as to why the poet compares the pain to that of a broken bone. However, as time goes by, the poet is accepting the fact that the subject is already gone. Consider the phrase “….is becoming the inevitable space between atoms”. The poet tries to tell us that such things cannot be avoided and we have to accept them as they occur (Derrida & Jacques 25). The same way we cannot avoid the space between atoms. He is trying to tell us that such things are controlled by nature and are beyond our control. He further says that the pain is inevitable like the blanks in the crystal lattice. He also compares the pain to the edges of snowflake holes. By comparing the pain to a missing piece in a twist of a kaleidoscope, the poet is still showing us how he is getting used to the departure of the subject. This is because a loss of a piece in a kaleidoscope will not have much effect to the light and most like it will not be noticed.
The pattern of the kaleidoscope will appear complete with the loss of one piece. This clearly shows that the poet is no longer feeling hurt as he used to and that the pain has disappeared with time. Such cases are common in our day-to-day lives. Our relatives, friends and lovers die and we are left in great sorrow as we mourn their death. Friendships also break up and once again we experience the being of being left by a loved one. Some people are able to cope with such situation whereas most of us are greatly affected by our loved ones’ departure such that some mourn for a very long period and in some cases others mourn for life.