Geeking out this morning over the detection of gravitational waves, I thought I’d share this poem from A God’s Life with Ben’s general relativity-based time travel idea—that one might be able to transform between movement in space and movement in time something like the way one transforms between mass and energy in special relativity.
The Pesach Seder
A little girl—Rachel, Jeremy said—
holds a basket over her head
for me to choose from.
I draw a tiny triceratops,
find its mate on the table,
almost as far as possible from Jeremy.
Rachel sits next to me
and flashes a wide baby-flirt
smile. Then, she attacks
my triceratops with her stegosaurus.
Across the table, Jeremy secures a spot
by his other cousin. He asks Ben if he’s still
working on his time travel theory.
Ben straightens from his slump.
“Well, I’ve gotten as far as an approximate
equivalency between space and time,
but I need more calculus
before I can get it exactly equal.”
“What would you do, if you controlled
time?” I say. He answers, “I’d go back and see
what really happened.” But nobody sees that.
Michael, Jeremy’s uncle, comes
from the kitchen saying, “Chicken’s
in the oven. Let’s get this show on the road.”
After the first half of the Seder
over bowls of matzah ball soup,
Michael and Jeremy’s dad argue
about the war; his mother waits
for Grandma Ruth to finish the story about her first job
during the Depression. She’s heard it before.
A couple glasses of wine later,
Michael starts balancing plates
on his nose. Jeremy’s mom
punches her brother’s arm.
Rachel tugs my sleeve, beckons me
to lean closer. She tells me how her mother
used to put food out for the neighborhood
alley cats, and Rachel named them.
Her favorite was a gray tabby
with a hint of orange in his coat.
She named him Marmalade.
Then winter came, and Marmalade
stopped coming around. Ben explained
about death, about the unknowable.
Then, their mother died.
She says she hopes the stories
aren’t true, that there isn’t only one love
for each person. She says she doesn’t want
to believe god could be that cruel.
Later, on the subway, I pull Jeremy
into a crushing hug. “I love you, too,”
he says. I wish he didn’t.