Monday, May 6, 2024

If You Hadn’t Paused to Read This

The game if doesn’t exist
Without language. The game if
Needs a way of constructing

The not as definitely
Not but not impossible,
That is, hypothetical.

The game if has three major
Variations, along with
Innumerable subgames.

The pragmatic game of if
Is the most valuable.
It uses past to predict

The way the past is likely
To change. Based on what is known,
What’s expected next, if this.

The forward speculation
Is more hit or miss. Call it,
At best, thought experiment—

Fantasy, at silliest—
If this unevidenced thing
Were to exist, then what’s next?

Then, there’s the backward, hopeless
Game of if. If some past bit
Had not happened as it did,

How would the rest of the past
Be different? One can change
The past, of course. The past is

Always changing, but only
By the addition of new
Things happening. There is no

Unhappening. There is no
Scenario in which life
On Earth never got started,

In which the sun never burned,
In which this or that tiny
Thing someone did wasn’t did.

And yet, in language there is.
In language there always is,
If x hadn’t, maybe this.

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