An Economist's Guide to Stars

Stephanie Tom

In a world without numbers,

train your eyes to discern light.

Watch the pulsing of colors, blue

& red and everything in between,

a standard bandwidth for

heartbeats. Get used to hoping

for supernovas and a glimpse of

time unzipped through past,

present, and future alike—

don’t forget to avert your gaze.

Red shifts are good days, contrary

to popular belief. To know that

there is always a horizon beyond

prediction, if one even exists, is

as safe as you can feel when you

imagine yourself outside of

your own body—to be part of

a whole. Rather, it’s about time

you realize that every wink of

light in the sky is a timeline,

every soul a star. Realize

that try as you may, to bend

the limits of your being,

we are all traveling models

of exponential decay.

Every year a slighter fraction,

every day moving faster in the

context of continuity, our

potential merely a promise

of what lies beyond the point

of blue shift recognition and

time marching towards us.

We revolve around a sun that

will never supernova because

its body is too small for bursting.

To live in a universe closing in

on you, the first thing you must

learn is to have equal compassion

for those that the universe

pushes to the breaking point

as well as those who cannot afford

to. In a world void of figuring,

the first rule is the only one.

About the Author

Stephanie Tom is a current student at Cornell University. She has previously been recognized by the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the International Torrance Legacy Creativity Awards, and the International Save the Earth Poetry Contest. She is an alumna of the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program, a 2019 winner of the Poets & Writers Amy Award, and the author of Travel Log at the End of the World (Ghost City Press, 2019). When she’s not writing, she dabbles in dance, martial arts, and graphic design.