Time passed for us in jump, we knew,
but all the calculations said the process
really took no time at all:
we’d live and work for days or weeks
in that strange space that wasn’t,
spend a real-time week or two in each star system,
assessing each planet’s potential,
back home before we knew it.
It’s true we broke some cosmic rules,
warping space-time for our instant “Jump”;
and, yes, an unexpected price to pay
for our quantum crime:
I’m suddenly as ancient & wrinkled
As Tiresias, as androgynous,
Weary beyond cognition.
Our careful computations
do not account for this;
I’m a reverse Rip Van Winkle–
I’ve stayed awake and aged decades
within a seeming week or two,
while no time passed on Earth
I don’t think I have the years
for one more jump; I’ll stay here
orbiting this barren world
within my low-G habitat; that’s what I need now.
Homeward bound at sub-light speeds
I’d spend close to eternity;
Earth would not be Earth when I arrived.
If I tried to make it home
before the universe grew cold
I’d be a desiccated husk,
or, perhaps, reduced to powder,
and not myself at all.
So I will play astronomer
to this remote star system,
capture photographic images
of the striated gas giant’s
I’ll try to keep a focused consciousness,
a sense of purpose . . .
and die, I hope,
with private dignity.
David Kopaska-Merkel describes rocks for the State of Alabama. He lives in an urban farmhouse with a yellow “tin” roof, and has published 1200+ poems, etc since 1972. He won the Rhysling award for best long poem in 2006 for a collaboration with Kendall Evans. Kopaska-Merkel has published Dreams and Nightmares magazine since 1986. DN website [http://dreamsandnightmares.interstellardustmites.com/]. Blog at http://dreamsandnightmaresmagazine.blogspot.com/.
Kendall Evans’ poems have appeared in ANALOG, ASIMOV’S SF, WEIRD TALES, NEBULA AWARDS SHOWCASE 2012, FANTASTIC, DREAMS & NIGHTMARES, MYTHIC DELIRIUM, STRANGE HORIZONS, and many other magazines and anthologies. He is the author of THE RINGS OF GANYMEDE, a novel in the form of a dramatic poem, nominated for the 2015 Elgin Award for Best Science Fiction Poetry Book of the Year. David and Kendall have collaborated on more than 60 poems and written several chapbooks together, including SEPARATE DESTINATIONS and THE TIN MEN.