Choosing to Burn

She’d spent her whole life reaching for the stars,
Being taught, as a child, that all your wildest dreams
Could be plucked like apples off a tree; all you
Had to do was reach. Today, she stares
At the pink slip of paper in her hand, a glimmer
Of something like hate, venomous and black,

Rising in her throat. Unsteady, she sees black,
Seeping like shadows and then exploding like stars
Across her field of vision. Where is the glimmer
Of hope, she thinks, where is the cushion of her dreams
To break this blow? Here, now, at last; she stares
Into the face of reality and thinks, Fuck you.

You, with your soul-shattering compromises; you,
With your inevitable and unavoidable fade to black;
I’ve jumped every hurdle, faced the appraising stares
With grace, seen the scintillating light of the stars
Through the proverbial glass ceiling. That teasing glimmer
Has driven me all my life, lit the dark corners of my dreams,

Urged me to aspire to heights which were, perhaps, dreams
In and of themselves. And now, here and now, you
Tell me it was for nothing, that the ever-present glimmer
I’d chased after was a supernova, an all-consuming black
Hole. I suppose that’s what I get for chasing goddamned stars.
As she leaves the office for the last time, ignoring stares

Which she can only assuming are pitying, she stares
Straight ahead, swearing off ambition, swearing off dreams
And hopes as something as unreachable as the stars,
As equally foreign and distant. There is a point at which you
Have to know when to stop dreaming, she thinks; when the black
Shroud of reality reveals itself, it’s time to wipe the glimmer

Of naivety from your eyes, and call it quits. The glimmer
Of the sun on the asphalt sidewalk burns her eyes, but she stares
Straight ahead, unblinking; all she can see is impenetrable black:
Her heart, her head, her future laid out ahead of her, her dreams,
All and only black. This is it, she think, this is what you
Get – lost in the emptiness of space, futilely striving for the stars.

Staring at her ceiling that night, she thinks: you have two choices–
If you follow your dreams, chase that glimmer of hope into empty space,
You, like the stars, can choose to either burn out gloriously, or simply fade to black.