ILLUMINATION
Published in

ILLUMINATION

On Becoming a Black Hole

Prologue

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The stars seem eternal in their celestial stations. Their beginnings exceed the collective memory of terrestrial minds. They have inspired awe since our most ancient of ancients marveled at them and memorialized them on cave walls. And they continue to inspire us from the four-year-old girl looking up in wonder at the night sky, to the neighbors gathered around a backyard telescope, to the astrophysicist taking pictures of Sagittarius A*. But the stars are not eternal. They came into existence and their existence comes to an end according to their natural course. And for some, their end is a celebrated display of violence in prelude to becoming a black hole.

Part 1
Achieving Equilibrium (a star)

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

It was conceived of dust
And incubated
In an interstellar womb
Swollen with the death
Of its ancestors
It had no form or awareness in utero
It was nebulous but steady
But also, and mostly, it was potential
In its core it was all potential
And it would be determined
By the weight of the nourishing womb
But now its body was ethereal
And its edges were unknown
And in the equilibrium of the womb
Its potential was bound

But the womb became more massive
And grew more heavy
And the equilibrium couldn’t hold
It was overwhelmed
And the dark core unbound its potential
And formed its edges
Then drew them into itself
Containing and compressing
Its ethereal body of elements inward
Under their cumulative weight
And they were Abrahamic in number, the elements,
And sovereign
But they could not escape
Nor maintain their integrity
Under the heat and pressure of collapse
Abdication was their only hope
So they renounced their unique potentials, their sovereignty
And entered each other
And became one
Then in an instant
A glow radiated outward
From their collective body (like a heartbeat)
It was alive
And its heart burned hot — increasingly
Radiating against the suffocating crush of its own heaviness
In equilibrium

It burns in tension now
Between life and death
And it burns like a beacon
Giving meaning to the pilgrims
Who’ve come to it
Also to worshipers who will receive its light
In distant skies

But it is not sovereign
It is governed by a supreme law
That knows only justice
And the heat it radiates
Against its suicidal heart
Is not as bread cast on the water
But for now, the star burns fiercely
Roaring against the heavy darkness

Part 2
Achieving Equilibrium (the boy)

Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

In the darkness,
The boy closed his eyes
And sleep came to him as death
And it brought death
Before his eyes opened again.
And in the same darkness,
While the sun burned low beneath the horizon
He learned of it:
She was not coming home
And the darkness moved into him
And it was heavy and expanded
Full of confusion and death

And he was conceived in that darkness
To be born again
(But not of water or of the spirit)
And in his core, it incubated
(in the place where fear hurts him)
In embryo it waited (his new self)
For the boy to lay it down (his old self)
But in that moment
The crush of the expanding darkness
Was repelled by the oblivion of his grief and tears
In a tenuous equilibrium

But his ears were filled with sadness
And nothing else and
Through his salty vision
The boy looked around
And saw the sadness:
There were so many tears
(And he saw them all)
But only a few hands to wipe them away
And those hands were earnest, too,
In explaining the mysteries of God:
He needed her. So God took her away
But his confusion only grew heavier because
He needed her too and had no other options
Confusion racked his heart increasingly
And the darkness grew massive proportionately
Its weight was unbearable and violent
Crushing him inward in contraction
He was little still
And his body was soft still
And his soul was tender still
Neither fortified yet to resist this offensive
And equilibrium was lost
And so was the boy
He couldn’t hold his boundaries –
not on his own and
he was on his own
So he abandoned them, his boundaries
Also his wants and needs
And laid his hand upon his mouth and
Became nothing
And there was no light in him

Then in an instant
He felt it, a calmness
(against the relentless contractions on all sides)
And it radiated outward
And the pain stopped
He was delivered from the darkness
And he was born again
(his newness worn as a mask)
But there was no crying at this birth
(He wiped away his own tears)
Also no wanting or needing as at his first
And no one questioned his silence
Instead, they welcomed it
It was a sign of a healthy boy, they reasoned,
Well adjusted
Also one less child to worry about
And the calmness expanded outward
To every part of him
Leaving an emptiness
In the place where the darkness was
But he felt it as lightness and welcomed it

He shines now
From his reflective mask of newness
And others are drawn to him
To renew themselves
He shines for them and reflects them
And makes no demands
But absorbs their praise of his conformity
And converts it to euphoric energy
That radiates outward in relief
Against the emptiness that grows heavy now
And works to pull him inward

But he is just a boy
And doesn’t know
The true cost of his sacrifice
Or that one day
He will pay that cost in full
But for now, he shines
And he is even

Part 3
Losing Equilibrium (a star)

Photo by Mingwei Lim on Unsplash

It roared for ages
(Obscuring its inner violence)
Burning in tension — brilliantly
Against the heaviness from which it was born
And carried with it still,
In its core the star carried it
And it worked to pull the star
Into itself
And it did not sleep nor rest
It was constant and bided its time
In this war of attrition
And the star had the greater burden:
In this war
It could not bide, but had to burn in protest
And it did not sleep nor rest
While its pilgrims
In devotion and silence
Circumambulated
And accepted the star’s light and heat
Bestowed by its grace
Ignorant of their violent production
And having no concept of the finite
But the end always comes
Even when time
Is measured in billions

But the star felt it coming — the end
It was cold
And it distilled from its heart
Out to its edges
And its heart grew heavier
So the star grew larger
In defiant self-exaltation
Red, too, with anger
But there was a hollowness in its display:
the kind that goeth before destruction
And in its expanding anger
It consumed the pilgrims nearest its throne
In its sacrificial flame
And they did not flee or stray
But their sacrifice was in vain

It was tired, the star
And its light and heat pulsed unsteadily
Billions of years is a long time to burn
And not only burn but to burn in resistance
Without sleep
Without rest
But the end was coming
The end always comes

And the star felt it
Coldness increased and rushed out to its limits
And its edges contracted inward:
Betrayed by its iron heart
The war of attrition was lost, it seemed
But the star still burned in its demise –
A fraction of its prime, true
But it still burned and was not dead
And it was full of violent physics
(it was violent physics)
And it would offer one last sacrifice

It exploded silently
In an eviscerating, sacrificial offering
And it’s pilgrims
Witnessed the offering and
Received the offering and
Then were gone
As the supernova roared unbound through space
(but there will be witnesses still in distant skies)
And the star collapsed instantly and finally
Back into the darkness of the terrible, spinning heaviness
From which it was born
Its sacrifice was in vain

It roars now, but not as before –
There is no burning and no tension
But its heart is violent still and invisible
Obscured not by the light of fusion
But that dark heaviness
That gave birth and death to the star
And meaning in between –
Then took its dead parts
Into itself in resurrection
(its full potential realized)
And it devours now insatiably and unchecked
As it moves outward in circles
Repossessing the grace
It once bestowed and more

It gave but now it taketh away
The end always comes

Part 4
Losing Equilibrium (the boy)

Photo by Gabriel on Unsplash

He came of age as a mask –
Shining reflectively
(Obscuring his inner emptiness)
And lived his days in tension
Seeking praise (like heroin)
From those who issued him
And those who go up to mountaintops and
Swear to temple altars
And he chased it, the praise (like an addict)
To repel the emptiness that grew heavier
And pulled him inward
(And it was in his soul)
But the euphoria was gone
It was not like the first days
Time and experience took it away –
Now only lukewarm equilibrium
But it was sufficient for his needs

So he paid the cost
He became what others needed: reflecting their ideals
That was the cost they asked
And he asked for nothing
But they spoke well of him; they esteemed him
And he absorbed their praise and expanded
Holding his edges
Against the crush of his empty soul

But the actual cost was greater
And the books were kept:
There would be a reconciliation
There is always a reconciliation
And it was coming; he felt it in his heart

But today his soul hurt from emptiness
And trembled near collapse
So he looked to pay
In large theatrical ways –
On centerstage if he could.
And he made himself big to be seen
But there was a hollowness about him
Like a shadow that was big
But had no substance
And he knew it and bowed his head in shame
And went out into the night — alone

And his soul shook
At the edge of its emptiness
And the emptiness was heavy
But he had nothing to set against it
And he felt it tremble, the equilibrium,
It trembled in distress
And he groaned

He knew it would come, the reconciliation.
He always knew
But it went out of his mind
Because it never arrived, day after day
Until now
And the books were opened
And the balances came due
in large numbers
He felt them in his heart and
It grew heavy and broke
And the emptiness in his soul was voracious
And insatiable and it pulled his soul inward
There was no resistance
He had nothing to set against it
And it would not stop
And the pain would not stop
And he looked around
Darkness was everywhere in the room
And there were no hands to comfort him

But the Peacemaker was beside him
And he turned to her and held her close
She was heavy in his hand and
Full of violent physics
But he felt a calmness
And it moved throughout his body
One less child to worry about, he thought
And he wiped the tears from his eyes
There would be no crying

Then, in the darkness
The supernova expanded from him
Savagely
(there were no witnesses — but there would be)
And he collapsed in an instant
And darkness embraced everything
And from it, an emptiness rose up
Invisible — like a ghost
And moved outward in circles
It will reclaim the joy and more

There is always a reconciliation

Epilogue

What we celebrate in the stars is mourned on earth.

You are not destined to become a black hole.

You are more radiant than a star.

So burn fiercely in your core and your cœur and

Roar against the darkness and the emptiness.

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

© Scott R. Edgar, 2022

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Scott Edgar

Scott Edgar

father, desert explorer, poet, attorney Host of The Poet (delayed) podcast https://blessed-pine-5317.fireside.fm/