Many Worlds Theory
Or maybe we pass each other on the street
And our eyes lock (or don't)
And we continue.
None the better
For it, none the worse.
There's a world in which you were never born,
And a world in which you are already dead.
You ran just a little faster and caught the train which crashed,
Caught it with a second to spare and a sigh of relief,
And somewhere I cried for you,
And somewhere else I didn't, because
I didn't know that there was
Anyone to cry for.
There's a world which is almost like this one,
All things are the same:
The drizzle and
The slight mist and
The smell of the corridor and
The stains on the ceiling and
The faint sound of classical music drifting from the radio in flat 1 where Miss Bell lives alone and
The shock of
The shock of your dark hair
Let loose against the bright red of your new winter coat.
All these things are the same in that world as in this but
But in that world you are not leaving.
You are coming home.
In that world you are walking towards me,
Smiling, shaking off the raindrops,
(You do not have to wish for these things or remember them, just know that somewhere
They are playing themselves out
And in that world we are taking hands
(Smiling, shaking off the raindrops)
Your cheeks cold like the air outside
(Smiling, shaking off the raindrops)
In that world we two are
Shutting the door on all other worlds,
And curling on the sofa,
To revel in idleness.
Maybe we are drinking tea together,
And in that world
The warmth from the mug,
Seeping through the cup into my fingers,
Is just as real
Just as true as
This world ever was.
You are trying to pretend that you aren't crying.
'Goodbye then, I... are you sure you're...?'
'Yes. I'll. Yes.. I'll.. well... goodbye...'
There is a parallel world.
I am in one, reading a cookbook
while stirring ingredients
over a wood stove,
a cat warming itself nearby.
There is another parallel world.
I am in this one too.
I am in a battle, dodging bullets
before charging blindly
to the next foxhole. I have a letter
in my breast pocket from a girlfriend
informing me, she’s found someone else.
I am in another world, leading a llama
up a mountain, a thin rope fraying,
the only guide in this area
abandoned me to this cliff ending nowhere.
I am world after world. Some I am content,
boring, predictable. Others I am on edge,
in perils, risking it all. It is all either
or. There is no in-between. Cliffhanger,
or a snore-fest. And in this world,
normal has flexible standards like stoplights,
and sometimes people speed through
before the light changes, and sometimes
they do not make it. In other worlds they make it.
I ask my daughter,
the aspiring astrophysicist,
to tell me the theory, the concise
sentence, the undulating lines
of pure thought that describe
the theory of mothers and daughters.
Her mother cannot comprehend how
tiny strings vibrating in
a microscopic universe can hold
everything together: from DNA's
double helix to the silky translucence
of a moth's wings to Bach's
Concerto for Two Violins.
How it can all be reflected in
eleven dimensions: eleven parallel
universes wrapped in empty space--
a dark energy of nothing.
My one-dimensional mind boggles
as my daughter explains. But the messy
world of an atom's nucleus
(the photons and quarks, the positrons
and muons, the wimps and Higg's Boson)
all blur in my tired head.
She describes a famous physicist's
lecture and I can only imagine him
at the podium with mismatched socks.
Dark blue of sky mistaken for dark
black of night. No use searching my
finite space for a unified theory
when I can hardly recognize
my own daughter as she lives
more and more in her own universe
and leaves my small world behind.
The daughter who waxes and wanes
like the moon; loves me
and pulls away like the tides;
listens to a rock group
called Magnetic Field sing
about the unscientific mess of love;
loses car keys and forgets to turn off
the stove when the primordial soup
boils down to nothing.
The daughter who as a child
was lost in a Chicago museum
filled with the physics of Magritte;
and as a smaller child noticed
the silica shimmering in a lake
in Nova Scotia and deemed it diamonds.
This woman who now peers at the stars
in the night sky and sees
just as many diamonds. And
in the morning thinks the warm
air of a January thaw is not fog,
but the broken snow on fire.
The woman who knows the textbook
explanation, yet wants to believe
in the flames.
The daughter who looks at me
with my cosmology of tentative
words, tentative silence and tries
to see the mother: the proof
that she is my child. The proof
that everything, everything is connected.
Whether we dare to believe it or not.