Waving The Starships Goodbye

One day, the children will want to leave, tired
of our insistence on the weight of things,
like history, wanting space for its own sake.
Starships were luxuries we never had.
Mostly we resent the money better spent
on stalling entropy. Remember to call home.

Some sleep, icicles the whole way and wake
to find themselves exactly the same,
though the worlds below them are brand new.
A single message: no sighte of foreynes,
al aren welle.
They are frozen in time
and it is us the centuries have aged so much.

Or vast ships, mountains really, wormed all through
by the slow generations born to those
who could choose, as emigrants do, their lives.
Everything is fine, except arriving.
What would such small strange folk do with planets?
The walls close in. We never hear from them again.

We were proudest of the zero-point drives
our brightest glimpsed at the edge of physics,
flinging them to the stars and back to tell.
But time-dilation does not encourage
loyalty to the blank face of the future.
They will go far and conceive of things we cannot.

We warned the children about FTL,
the risks of messing with causality.
Now and again they drop in, though never
to the world they left. Didn’t Hitler win?
Privately, they think us quaint and shrunken
and are impatient to be off. Just like we said.

—David Barber