“The Coming of the Jirt” by David Barber

Legend will grow round us and the manner of our coming,
how we moved amongst them like ghosts, heedless of locked doors, surprising leaders in their castles, or safe in their bunkers
or at stool; and how it was their radio snagged us, since
we too once trusted science.

It was magic that was real, and astrology and spirits,
and science a distraction. Loosed from the handicap
of reason, bad luck and good fortune might be bribed.
And we showed them how the chanting of thousands could lift
a laughing child into the sky.

Their scientists split between those certain of trickery
and those hoping it was only quantum stuff, allowing things
still to make sense. But whispered spells altered gravity
and sped up light. It was impossible, they said, their world
like a trapdoor beneath them.

A generation hence, their best will still be wrangling
over alchemy. They had travelled too far and too fast;
imagine if they had gotten loose. What had been wrong
with horses and the steam engine? Another bomb defused.
Still cloaked, our starship slips away.


David Barber lives anonymously in the UK. His ambition is to continue doing all of these things.

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