Parallel Lives

The quantum theory of parallel universes is… not some troublesome, optional interpretation emerging from arcane theoretical considerations. It is the explanation - the only one that is tenable - of a remarkable and counter-intuitive reality.

- David Deutsch, The Fabric of Reality.


Was it the railway strike,
Or Microsoft - the outage
On the network? You were rage
And depression personified.

The boss was fretting at a deadline missed.
The pointless meeting started on the dot
At Ten. In your gut
Nothing but the fear that time amassed.

All day the slurry of your mood
Spread on your desk from its overloaded in-tray.
It doodled on a pad and left the stapler empty.
It was coffee on a keyboard,

A mouth above the basin transfigured by a swearword.
It furnished an agenda that could not be deferred.
It rang like a call unanswered
In a derelict office at the end of the world.

If this was your life, then it wasn't yours.
You were a loop without an exit condition,
A shadow wired to an occupation,
The hollow one among your peers.

In an innumerable set of parallel universes
You had come to this. If in a few
You were happy, that was more to do
With statistics than Providential fairness.

You saw so clearly. You had lost your way
Among the obligations, a trapped
Nerve, a paper cut. So just how wide was the gap
Between you then and the teenage boy

That very moment coming through the door
Of your building, taking the one good lift
(How often had you cursed those broken lifts!)
To rise to the topmost floor,

Climb through the window of the Gents, high
Above the street, and for motives of his own
Take the long step down,
Trusting to survive

(Since total extinction cannot be willed)
Only in a an infinitesimally
Percentage of worlds?

K. M. Payne

If you've any comments on his poem, K.M.Payne would be pleased to hear from you.