After Inventing Time Travel

You will explore the Milky Way

repeatedly pleating time and distance,

leaping light-years, centuries.


Yours the first footprint

on a hundred worlds,

the first muttered words.


The laws of physics gathering

the galaxy along its grain,

past to future, near to far.


That first long stitch warping you

to Tau Ceti, twelve years out,

the altered patterns of its constellations.


Time after time you will stand,

hands outstretched, face lifted,

alone in an alien rain.


Time after time until you pause,

pin yourself in place,

wait for someone to catch up.

Mary Soon Lee was born and raised in London, but has lived in Pittsburgh for over twenty years. Her latest books are from opposite ends of the poetry spectrum: “Elemental Haiku,” containing haiku for the periodic table, and “The Sign of the Dragon,” an epic fantasy with Chinese elements, winner of the 2021 Elgin Award. She hides her online presence with a cryptically named website ( and an equally cryptic Twitter account (@MarySoonLee). 

Photo by Graham Holtshausen on Unsplash

Creator Spotlight:

Mary Soon Lee

Author of “After Inventing Time Travel”

What inspired you to write this poem?

I wanted to write a poem for the Wanderlust theme, and it occurred to me to include moving in time as well as distance.

What do you hope readers take from this poem?

Mostly, I hope that they will enjoy reading it (fun is underrated!) Beyond that, I hope it conveys some of the wonder of science fiction in the idea of jaunting across the galaxy, and, at the end, the shift toward seeking companionship.

To give other writers hope, would you mind sharing with us how many edits and/or submissions this poem has been through?

I wrote it in one day, but I saved seven complete or partial drafts before the final version. After (excellent) feedback from Apparition Lit, I later revised one line.

Recommend something to us! This could be a book, a short story, a video game, a project you’ve heard about, something you’re working on, etc. Anything that has you excited and that you want people to know about.

I’m reading “The Poetry Home Repair Manual” by Ted Kooser, a book on writing and revising poetry–and I love it. Kooser’s thoughts are wise and helpful, delivered gently and often wittily. I especially like his concern for the reader, that poetry should be accessible and rewarding. I wish I’d read this years ago!

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