In one world, it’s all slides and tinkling laughter
A monkey rolls you tangerines
And sunshine shows you what you’re after,
With not a flicker. Solar-powered machines
Propel new towns
Above the hills of Martian moons
While, back on Earth, dull frowns
Transmute to sheer elation in hot air balloons.
But it’s a different story in this other world:
Splat pioneers. The hasty flocks
Of herons push an aeroplane off course,
And in the navel of volcanoes what is curled
But imminent destruction,
And, diametric, slow, some distant plate’s subduction?
Still, I that former world, the life is lucky.
The lovers? They are always true.
The heroes are sincere and plucky.
Your footsteps know, by instinct, what to do.
For now at least,
Warmongers reach a compromise
And shares of land are pieced
Between free shepherds who rejoice below clear skies.
But elsewhere God or restless mathematics meant
To fix it so
That days are short and passions go.
We can’t imagine what the reason is
It chances that, for all our intricate intent,
We stall where we begin.
To notice this
Can change one’s spin on life, if not the quantum spin.
from The Multiverse (Carcanet, 2018), © Andrew Wynn Owen 2018, used by permission of the author.