When Will the Sun Explode?

Everything you love will probably be lost…
    — attributed to Kafka

Image: “Sunrise at Juno Beach” by H.R. Debs

I write this on the shortest day of the year,
the longest night having just received word
someone I knew in my younger years died this year
in March “of” or “from” brain cancer, I’m not quite
sure which word applies, the dying notwithstanding.
Warnings abound about the advent of seasonal affective
disorder as the year wanes, aptly called SAD, coupled
anew with Covid anxiety as another pandemic variant
advances and now we know when the sun is expected
to burn out. The article I read is clear: “the sun’s ‘life’ in its
current phase, known as its ‘main sequence’—in which
the nuclear fusion of hydrogen allows it to radiate energy
and provide enough pressure to keep the star from collapsing
under its own mass—will end about 5 billion years from now.”
As if we don’t have enough to worry about.

About the Poem

The pressures of living sometimes seem unbearable even in “normal” times; At the beginning of Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway Woolf writes: “She always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day.” However, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907 – 1954) sums it up best: “At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” This poem emerged after reading recent articles like “When will the sun explode?” and “End of the world warning as scientists pinpoint exactly when Sun will explode.”The epigraph referenced in the poem attributed to Kafka has been truncated; search for the full version online and you’ll be surprised by the sentiment expressed by this author known for treating life as filled with alienation and existential anxiety.

For further reading: “Using poetry to understand grief during a very difficult year” 

About the Author

Howard Richard Debs is a recipient of the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards. His essays, fiction, and poetry appear internationally in numerous publications. His photography is featured in select publications, including in Rattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor. His book Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words (Scarlet Leaf Publishing), is the recipient of a 2017 Best Book Award and 2018 Book Excellence Award. His latest work Political (Cyberwit) is the 2021 American Writing Awards winner in poetry. He is co-editor of New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust, forthcoming from Vallentine Mitchell of London, publisher of the first English language edition of the diary of Anne Frank. He is listed in the Poets & Writers Directory. howarddebs.com

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