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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

Young Writers Project: 'Too Young/The Sun Will Die'

Burlington, Vermont, student and writer Hazel Civalier has much to say about the treatment of the Earth she and her peers are soon to inherit.
YWP Photo Library, photo by Sam Aikman, Richmond, Vermont
Burlington, Vermont, student and writer Hazel Civalier has much to say about the treatment of the Earth she and her peers are soon to inherit.

The year I turn 18, our atmosphere
will release the last particle of helium into space.
There are theories that the universe is random –
incredibly cruel.
I can’t completely agree, considering I was born
in the second year of the second millennia on the twentieth,
and the second atomic element will leave our planet in 2020,
two years from now.
If the universe is made up of math –
all algebra, generally geometry,
tints of trig, and covered in calculus –
then tell me, is 18 an equation
where if one is singularity and eight is dignified infinity,
then 18 equals adulthood?
But of course no mathematician will answer me
till I solve for that constant, find the double of fear,
the square root of censure rounded to significance –
to 18, to having rights, and a vote, a voice, a person.
A person that forgets anyone with less than
two digits painted under their eyes,
seven or less nails added to their 10 counting fingertips,
still has a mind behind those eyes
and a mouth behind those fingers,
the fingers that press against our mouths.
Shhhhh. Children should be seen and not heard.
Yet children have two eyes and two ears, do they not?
The better to see you with, my dear.
The better to see the wolf’s severed head in granny’s nightcap,
The Little Mermaid’s rotting scales of plastic treasures
on your plasma screen TVs.
You can cradle your false remote,
but we did not study the secrets of the stars
to spoon-feed our nearly-grown children lies of innocence.
It was a child that found the rest of Snow White’s poisoned apple,
and a child’s corpse that will lay in the silicon casket,
their soul floating up, up, up…
Some are too pure for this world.
Oh really? The false fragility you inflict won’t stop us from staying,
from working, like the 117 other elements,
straining to hold the matter of our world together –
though our second digit isn’t equal to or greater than eight.
The helium is leaving our atmosphere,
and I refuse to wait for balloons to become obsolete before I fill my future.
What are 18, 21, 4.6 billion, except numbers?
They say age is experience,
but some see more for each turn of the Earth
than others will in an entire circuit of the sun.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are
Tell me I don’t know, that I can only stare at the stars,
gazing longingly at understanding,
without even my fingertips brushing its angular edges – but they do.
I know that stars are spheres of plasma,
fusing hydrogen atoms into helium in their cores.
I know that when the hydrogen is gone,
they frantically fuse larger elements,
building the blocks of life in death.
I know our sun will die, too, and I ask you –
if you were witness to the eminence of a supernova,
would you just stand and wait?

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