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.