What an intriguing idea: Reversing time to see your younger self moving forward in time as you move backward. What if everything that’s happening here has a reverse reality in an anti-world? Mueller’s poem plays with this idea of opposite motions.
What would you need to have on hand to meet that self midway through life? The speaker of this poem lists the things she will need from the past: lipstick, shampoo, transistor radio, Sergeant Pepper, acne cream, five-year diary with a lock. Why shampoo?
What would you need for that journey to meet your younger self?
by Lisel Mueller
There is less difficulty—indeed, no logical difficulty at all—in
imagining two portions of the universe, say two galaxies, in which
time goes one way in one galaxy and the opposite way in the
other. . . . Intelligent beings in each galaxy would regard their own
time as “forward” and time in the other galaxy as “backward.”
—Martin Gardner, in Scientific America
Lisel Mueller, “Palindrome” from Alive Together: New and Selected Poems.
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden.
The featured image is Cabbages in an Orchard, 1894 by Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928).