Poetry and Lights 2022

Letter to the Poet at the End of Time

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by Ruelaine Stokes

I know. 

 

That old fireball will run out of hydrogen, 

collapse from the weight of gravity, heating up  

as it goes, cause the upper layers  

to swell.  

 

“Red giant,” we say, as if our minds 

could contain it. 

 

Planetary nebula, white dwarf, black dwarf. 

A few billion years. 

 

“That’s not what I’m talking about,” you say, 

and yet, you are. Or I am. And what difference 

does it make where the words come from? 

 

We dance on the lip of disaster.  

 

Our skin so thin we see the blood pulse. 

Our feet so tender we wrap them in  

Leather, plastic, rubber. 

 

Our bodies so fragile, they wear out. 

 

What to do?  

There is nothing to do. 

 

Let’s decorate a tree with small, bright lights 

gather ‘round the piano, sing 

the old songs. 

 

You tell a story, I’ll recite a poem. 

 

12/14/22

 

Ruelaine Stokes is a poet, spoken word performer and teacher. For decades, she has been working to nurture a growing poetry community in greater Lansing.

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