On January 26th 2024, Karl Medlicott, my husband, my friend, the man I’ve shared life with this past twenty-three years, died of colon cancer. He was only sixty-three—far too young. I deeply mourn the loss of him.

While Karl was sick, I came across this poem by Rebecca Allison, an American astronomer. I read it over and over and over. She wrote the poem while dying of cancer, providing comfort to us mere mortals with her vision and her words.

by Rebecca Elson

Sometimes as an antidote
To fear of death,
I eat the stars.

Those nights, lying on my back,
I suck them from the quenching dark
Til they are all, all inside me,
Pepper hot and sharp.

Sometimes, instead, I stir myself
Into a universe still young,
Still warm as blood:

No outer space, just space,
The light of all the not yet stars
Drifting like a bright mist,
And all of us, and everything
Already there
But unconstrained by form.

And sometime it’s enough
To lie down here on earth
Beside our long ancestral bones:

To walk across the cobble fields
Of our discarded skulls,
Each like a treasure, like a chrysalis,
Thinking: whatever left these husks
Flew off on bright wings.

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