“All fear is the fear of death.”
—Ram Dass

How do you measure the sun?
Because of its corona,
you can’t do it entirely—
even that varies month to month.
I suppose you could try to
size it up alongside other stars,
but our solar system only has the one.
Perhaps we could measure the sun
by how far its light reaches.
But by then, we’d have to go out past
Pluto to know for certain,
and none of us would survive the trip.

Much easier to measure the sun
in the way it reaches us here at home—
by how it warms or burns the skin,
or grows the food,
or by the way we shield our eyes,
when it’s especially bright,
or how we can almost but not quite
stare at its corona, unflinching,
at dawn or just before the gloam.
Or maybe we could measure the sun
by its absence—how we are
abandoned in the merciless, entropic dark.

People.
We’re such junkies for all things bright.
Maybe in another life, we were moths.
We mistake all sources of light for the sun,
and that’s how we measure our lives—
we even shift time to hoard it.
We are still so fundamentally primordial—
fixated on whatever provides comfort.
And we snatch at too much
of whatever we can to know
for certain that even without clarity,
we’ll be all right.

We’ve convinced ourselves
the resolution is to know.
And the only way to know
is to try and measure anything
without a pulse—
a decade, a virus, a sun.
Anything we do not already recognize
in ourselves, we amplify its importance,
and to what end?
By the time someone figures it out—
and I mean all of it—
what we didn’t say to them
while we still had time,
the book lodged inside
we never got a chance to write,
the songs we could’ve sung,
the trip we could’ve taken,
the meals we will never share
on the fancy dishes,
the gazes we could’ve lost ourselves in,
whatever it is each of us
has been looking for all this time—
it won’t be this way—
staring unblinking at the source.
The stars will burn out first
before it’s agreed upon
what we should have done
in any situation.

By the time anyone will be able
to measure what’s come and gone
today or tomorrow or the next day,
it will always be by the after-image.
And by then, someone,
a century from now,
will be certain they’ve finally,
finally figured out a way to measure us.

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Bianca Lynne Spriggs (Bianca X), Award-winning poet and playwright, Affrilacian Poets, and Cave Canem Fellow signs with Shadelandhouse Modern Press to publish her new poetry collection, We're Still Big Banging

Bianca X is award-winning poet and playwright, Affrilachian Poet, and Cave Canem Fellow