I sat on the porch, watching the spring
Blue skies, green grass, yellow sun
Birds, tulips, weeds
I watched the trees--pale green newborn leaves
All well with the world
The screen of my mind, the eye's projector
Twisted out of shape
Without losing sharp focus
Stretched, tore and rent apart
And in the opening only blackness
The green was pulled off the edges
And I was left
In the dark.
My God! I cried. What happened?
Where am I?
I cannot see a thing!
And a voice answered: "Yes, you can. Feel it!"
Sharp, clear-cut. The void has no echoes
No reverberations, either.
And I saw where I was. Far in space
The dark pierced by pinholes of stars
More and still more, all around.
And I felt: not much here
Density oh point two atoms per cee cee
(must be on the fringes)
Point six gamma, magnetic
And some high energy particle flux
With assorted photons. Mostly, three degrees absolute
And pretty isotropic, as far as I could sense.
What is this? I cried. What sort of place?
"You know quite well," He said
Out among the stars
Watching the universe.
"And why?" I cried. I cannot see anyone
On the radio bands all is noise
No A-Em, no Eff-Em, no pulse code modulation
Nothing. No spaceships either
No spacewarp or supraluminous drive
And no little green men.
"There are no little green men"
There is no life in the universe except
On that little blue planet of yours.
In other universes, yes
But that's outside your dimension
And there is no spacewarp
You people will never get to this region
"So why bring me here?" I said
Just to show you what you are up against
Cold, vacuum, empty vastness
Not that you need them. You have
A pretty good place
Six days it took me to fix it up. Wasn't easy
You have to get all the interaction constants just right
Before you put it all together
Or else it won't go. Then you must set it off
Just in the proper way.
Only your ignorant biologists can think life will start alone
By itself, as soon as all ingredients are mixed.
Really, it was quite a job. Six days
And I got so tired
That I took the seventh off.
But it is a nice world
And it's developing very well, just as it was meant to
Unless you people burn it up
Or use it up, in some foolish way.
Every process has its latent instabilities
Only your clueless philosophers can claim
That everything is preordained. It isn't
(I have made sure of it).
Anyway, try keep it going
Remember that it's yours
And there are no spares.
Now, to put you back
He said, and round the rim of vision
Shades of pale green came rushing from infinity
Joining together, closing the gap
Like a moving picture run backwards
When you put in the cartridge upside down
(As you can do on newer models).
The trees straightened
Found which way was up
Twitched a bit
And were back as they always have been.
And my wife was looking at me strangely
"I was wondering what has happened to you"
"You were sitting there just staring into space
And for a moment it seemed
As if you just weren't there."
David P. Stern 23 May 1972
Author and Curator: Dr. David P. Stern
Mail to Dr.Stern: david("at" symbol)phy6.org .
Last updated 4 August 2012