In Praise of Timelessness

by Bruce Boston

NGC 2346: Butterfly Nebula

Hours and minutes have fled.
Seconds are as elusive as ever.
There are no right years anymore.
No true decades or centuries.

As the climes of humankind
resonate through the universe
the rules of relative space
take on absolute significance

and each meandering soul must
cast its own clock and calendar.
Like the dust from entropic stars
generations drift and coalesce,

epochs intertwine, styles abound
until all times are in fashion,
abetted by the lightning miles,
redshifted in constant revision.

Even those sacred nigh-immortals
who now travel openly among us
(envied by some, pitied by others),
their scattered faces baldly aglow

with the luminous high senility
of their wasted age and wisdom,
brain frayed and bare sensual
as only the brain-frayed can be,

must tread each ripening instant
as if it could be the first and last.
As we all are compelled to begin
again in this age of strayed color

and chronological calculation.
Shedding our outdated histories
like the husks of dry chrysali,
watching the past obliterate,

we are birthed to transience.
We learn to inhabit and embrace
the staggered synchronicity
of algorithmic space.

First published in Asimov's Science Fiction
Copyright © 1992, Bruce Boston

Bruce Boston is the author of forty books and chapbooks, including the novel Stained Glass Rain and the best-of fiction collection, Masque of Dreams. His stories and poems have appeared in hundreds of publications, including Asimov's Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy, Weird Tales, Strange Horizons, Pedestal, Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, and the Nebula Awards Showcase. His fiction has received a Pushcart Prize and the Best of Soft SF Award. His poetry has won a record seven Rhysling Awards, a record five Asimov's Readers' Awards, and the Grand Master Award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. He lives in Ocala, Florida, City of Trees, with his wife, writer-artist, Marge Simon. For further information, visit

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Image of the Butterfly Nebula (NGC2346) courtesy of NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)