Sunday, March 20, 2022

Postcolonial Era

It was an astonishing claim,
As well as deeply suspicious—
They announced that you could go back;

You just couldn’t come home again.
Time’s arrow could shoot at itself
In a loop like a boomerang,

But the moment you reentered
Any prior time of the world,
You immediately split worlds

Into the one where you’d arrived
And the one you’d just departed—
Both worlds diverging from those points.

There were no paradoxical
Risks to the world you’d left, other
Than your immediate absence.

The past you reached would never reach
The time you came from, however.
It traced a new trajectory.

In theory you could jump again
But only still further backwards
Through a universe of split ends,

And this meant everyone could get
A world from the past of their own.
From the time of the announcement,

Nothing in their home time would change,
No matter how many went back
To recolonize their time’s pasts,

Whether alone or in a pack.
You could only leave your time once.
You were on your own after that.

A few brave pioneers were lost,
But once it was fashionable
To gather groups of your people,

Whoever you wanted with you,
Whoever wanted you with them,
Then pick a time you’d do well in

(Pre-Industrial? Axial?
Prehistoric? Prehominin?
Devonian? Precambrian?)

Off you all went, colonials.
What made people buy into it
Was all that glorious footage

From scenes of vanished existence
The publicists and scientists
Would record before each vanished,

The momentarily opened
Portals that gave testimony
And fresh evidence of gone times.

It revolutionized the fields
Of history, biology,
And archaeology, of course,

Fresh data dumps from every jump,
One detailed snapshot at a time,
Until most of the publicists

And half of the scientists
Picked their own teams and times and went.
It was bewitching. A new life

Just whenever, literally,
You wanted one. The colonists,
Of course, never came back, and soon

It got too popular, and then
Our world’s economy collapsed.
So here we are, the ones who stayed,

Telling you, our grandchildren, this
Is the best fantasy of all,
A difficult time, but nothing

Much to fear wasn’t already here—
Hunger, hard work, the odd conflict.
Old death. But no colonists, yet.

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