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One-Way, Through the Fire

By Lin Darrow in Issue Seven, November 2022

It’s the first thing they tell you in Temporal Navigation 101:

Time is water,
But it knows no gentle ebb,
Only the rage and riot of rapids.
You can’t go back, the Temporists say;
The currents are too strong.
On this, the handbooks are agreed: don’t cling to lost time.
Drift forward, travel on, but don’t fight the tide.
Don’t be the fish caught in the hooks of days past, captive in its line.
Keep all your lost loves tucked away like jewels to their boxes,
Preserved in the dark velvet of memory.
Leave regret on the sands of long-ago,
As sailors do, bidding goodbye to the receding land.
Time travel is a one-way trip.

Once all the past you’ve left behind begins to pile up,
You learn a new metaphor.
Time is stone—
You wear it down, pass through cacks, erode.
You are the rapid; you, the gentle ebb.
The handbooks got it wrong.
You can go back,
So long as you intend to stay, fixed as mountain rock,
As the timestream loops around you.
Two days, two months, a year—
It depends on where you land.
One golden point in time, forever silver on repeat,
Like looping celluloid.

Whichever fate you choose, you’ll come to realize this:
Time is fire—
It hurts to pass through, no matter which direction.

© 2022 Lin Darrow

Lin Darrow

Lin Darrow's fiction, poetry and comics have appeared in anthologies by Air and Nothingness Press, Jessamine Press, Eerie River, Fortuna Media, Valour I and II, In Somnio and QueerSciFi. Her comic Shaderunners, about bootleggers in a greyscale world who steal bottled colour, has been published by Hiveworks since 2015, and a novella was published by Less Than Three Press (Pyre at the Eyreholme Press) in 2018 prior to its closure. She is a two-time Prism Award nominee whose work can be found @linkeepsitreal.

Poetry by Lin Darrow
  • One-Way, through the Fire