where the last bus leaves at six pm
and the one shop shuts at seven
and you find out at a quarter past
that the world is ending tonight,
and everyone all round the internet
is heading for Disneyworld
and flying airplanes and making love
and there you are, alone, in Duxford.
It might be worth calling a taxi
if there were anywhere in reach
you were sure you wanted to be,
if the taxis were running, if it wouldn’t
be horribly, hideously, unfair, to
make a taxi driver waste two hours
so you could have a last and solitary lobster –
it’s their end of the world too.
So you go outside and stand in damp grass
and look up at the cold far stars
where we’re not going to make it,
at the velvet night, at the traitor moon,
that smiling shining friendly face
that lights the locked church, the playground,
the clean technology factory
and all the little closed-in houses
with strangers boxed inside who won’t know or care.
The people you want to be with
(because it is the end of the world
after all, and you want to be with people
you care about for the end of the world)
are far away and out of reach, and busy
with their own last minute plans.
What could you do but disturb them
as the flame licks round the round world?
You go back in, put music on, boot up,
what’s different, after all, what
does it change to change your choices?
The phone sits quiet on its perch and you
spend your last hours happily enough
reading usenet, answering email
(which does not importune) and writing poetry
like every night, because every night
is the end of the world, in Duxford.
28th April, 1997.
(This is a British translation of Larry Niven’s “Inconstant Moon”.)