The red giant Betelgeuse is the dimmest seen in years, prompting some speculation that the star is about to explode. —National Geographic
The stars of Orion are not the same
as they were a few months ago,
for his right hand has dimmed so much
you scarcely see its glow.
Yes, Betelgeuse, the supergiant
lighting up the sky,
has lost its luster, barely noticed
by the naked eye.
Yet still it’s so immensely bloated,
if swapped with our own star,
it would eat Earth, Mars and Jupiter
like a bear at a salad bar.
When Father Time soon gives the order
to explode, so shall it,
glittering like a glockenspiel
struck by a metal mallet.
In a hundred thousand years—or now—
whenever it takes place,
it will be brighter than the moon,
and all the human race
will watch in awe an event that happened
in the middle ages
of a well-upholstered gaseous blob
that’s gone through its life stages.
But if tonight that cosmic whale
so pale now in Orion
spews its seed of elements
like the floss of a dandelion
to make more suns and worlds and life
(akin to me, in fact),
I’d feel as high as the moon itself
to catch it in the act.