I wrote this poem for my wife on Valentine’s Day two years ago. The problem is, I don’t think I’ll ever write a better Valentine’s Day poem (though I’ll keep trying). But for all you lovers (and lovers of science fiction) here it is again:
If starship travel from our
Earth to some far
star and back again
at velocities approaching the speed
of light made you younger than me
due to the relativistic effects
of time dilation,
I’d show up on your doorstep hoping
you’d developed a thing for older men,
and I’d ask you to show me everything you
learned to pass the time
out there in the endless void
If we were the sole survivors
of a zombie apocalypse
and you were bitten and transformed
into a walking corpse
I wouldn’t even pick up my
I’d just let you take a bite
out of me, because I’d rather be
than alive alone
If I had a time machine, I’d go back
to the days of your youth
to see how you became the someone
I love so much today, and then
I’d return to the moment we first met
just so I could see my own face
when I saw your face
for the first time,
I’d probably travel to the time
when we were a young couple
and try to get a three-way
going. I never understood
why more time travelers don’t do
that sort of thing.
If the alien invaders come
and hover in stern judgment
over our cities, trying to decide
whether to invite us to the Galactic
Federation of Confederated
Galaxies or if instead
a little genocide is called for,
I think our love could be a powerful
argument for the continued preservation
of humanity in general, or at least,
of you and me
If we were captives together
in an alien zoo, I’d try to make
the best of it, cultivate a streak
waggle my eyebrows, and make jokes
about breeding in captivity.
If I became lost in
the multiverse, exploring
infinite parallel dimensions, my
only criterion for settling
down somewhere would be
whether or not I could find you:
and once I did, I’d stay there even
if it was a world ruled by giant spider-
priests, or one where killer
robots won the Civil War, or even
a world where sandwiches
were never invented, because
you’d make it the best
of all possible worlds anyway,
we could get rich
off inventing sandwiches.
If the Singularity comes
and we upload our minds into a vast
computer simulation of near-infinite
complexity and perfect resolution,
and become capable of experiencing any
fantasy, exploring worlds bound only
by our enhanced imaginations,
I’d still spend at least 10^21 processing
cycles a month just sitting
on a virtual couch with you,
watching virtual TV,
eating virtual fajitas,
holding virtual hands,
for the real thing.
Poems written for other people are always the best ones. Happy or sad.
Speaking (somewhat tangentially) of lovers and poetry, it was your “Orpheus Among the Cabbages” that first brought me back to writing poems after a long absence and introduced me to specfic poetry as an artistic possibility. Not that I have, since then, written so very much very well. But still. Thank you for your work. I hope you and your family are having quite a nice holiday.
I don’t write much poetry myself, anymore. I should do so more often.
That is the best love poem I’ve read in my entire life! Hope to see you Sunday at the Other Change of Hob. (Dang, been reading your stuff for years; didn’t realize we’re practically neighbors.)
Awesome! Hope you make it to Other Change. Be sure to introduce yourself if you do.
I’ve been in the East Bay for about 11 years, mostly in Oakland — just moved to South Berkeley a couple years ago.
This poem is so brilliant that we used it as a reading at our wedding ceremony last year. Thank you so much for writing it 🙂 x
So glad you like it, and congratulations on the marriage!
[…] Scientific Romance by Tim Pratt […]
My fiancee and me are reading this out to each other at our wedding this Saturday. It is amazing. 😉
Congratulations on the nuptials!
Just attended a wedding where the justice of the peace read this out at the request of the couple, lots of chuckles and even a few tears.
Always happy to hear this!
[…] Scientific Romance Redux, […]
[…] Iain and I then independently read our vows to each other with a few stollen choice lines from the interwebs: […]
Tim I thought I was a geek but after reading your poem I’m just a ge.
[…] genuine ceremony that was exactly what these two would have wanted. There was also a reading of Scientific Romance by Tim Pratt which I loved! Of course there were also almost as many cameras present as there […]
This was silly and sweet and the perfect thing to share with my wife for our anniversary. Thank you for sharing it.
I would like to get a portion of this tattooed on me with your approval please. It has meant so much to me for so long!
I would be honored! Please send me a photo if you do!
Echoing others: my husband and I asked two of our good friends to read this at our recent wedding, to many laughs and much applause. I was so happy to find something that was romantic and meaningful without just being heavy (and reflected our mutual love of scifi/fantasy!).
Yay! I’m so glad. Congratulations on the marriage!
Fascinating! My daughter and her groom also used selections of this poem for their wedding on November 5th. Due to a cold, the reader ended up sharing the reading with her brother – and the resulting duet was even better than expected as it included both “voices” (bride and groom). Thanks for sharing this poem!
Mother of the bride.
[…] an emotional ceremony to say the least. Keeping with the science fiction idea, the groom read from a poem by Tim Pratt. Here is a small sample of the […]
Thank you so much for creating and sharing this!!! If it is okay with you, I would love to recite some of this poem during my wedding ceremony this Spring. You see, I love Science more than English, and every vow I try to write, sounds like a cheesy scene in a telenovela.
Feel free, and congratulations on the upcoming marriage!
Just heard this read at a wedding – more than a few laughs and tears ensued. It’s lovely, thank you.
Always happy to hear that!
Is this published in any books that I can purchase???
Yep! In my collection Antiquities and Tangibles: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AVMIHKC
When I originally commented I seem to have clicked
on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox
and now each time a comment is added I recieve four emails
with the same comment. There has to be a means you are
able to remove me from that service? Kudos!
Uh, I haven’t the foggiest idea how that works but I don’t think it’s something I can do?
Hi Tim! Just another fan who loves your poem. We read it together at our wedding last summer, alternating verses. The three-way line got an incredible laugh from my husband’s stepmom.
How wonderful! Congratulations on the nuptials!
This is fantastic, so glad I stumbled upon it! My fiance and I will be using this to read to each other during our Elopement this upcoming Sunday. Perfectly scif-fi and perfectly funny. Thank you for this! I have a feeling it will be my favorite part of our ceremony.
I’m so happy to hear it! Congratulations on the union. I wish you all the best.
[…] that started with a land acknowledgment, used gender impartial language, included a studying of Scientific Romance by Tim Pratt and we each wrote our personal vows, it was quick, candy and to the […]
Such a beautiful poem, Tim.
No need to top that magic! Magic comes and goes. This poem remains!
It was my great honour to read this poem at my niece’s wedding last March.
Your words of love have inspired the flames of true romance in so many people; people you don’t even know.
And that is the power of poetry.
Thank you so much!
I have been reading science fiction since the summer of 1970, and poetry since the spring of 1972. So I have some credibility of reading experience behind me when I say that this is one of the finest pieces of science fiction, of love poetry, and of science fiction love poetry that I have ever read. Ever. Its use of several science fiction tropes in order to deploy them to express love for the Beloved is too brilliant for my poor words to describe. I am sooooo very glad that random browsing brought me to this poem that I am bookmarking to my laptop favorites so that I can revisit it, which I intend to do soon and often. Thank you for posting this magnificent poem.
I’m so glad you like it!