Poetry by Juliane Borchert

Eight Minutes Twenty Seconds (2020)

For a long time I’ve been struggling
Struggling to reach the surface
Constantly losing myself
To suddenly reappear
Being absorbed and re-emitted
Absorbed and re-emitted
Absorbed and re-emitted
For ten thousands of years
Absorbed and re-emitted
Constantly losing myself
To suddenly reappear

Now I have emerged at the surface
Of the star you call the Sun
As I surface, I am not alone
Many, many, many, oh so many other photons are emerging with me
We are tiny, mass less, restless packets of energy
Flecks of light
All with different colours, wavelengths, trajectories
We have all been struggling for a long time
We are all energized and ready to go

And so we go
Hurled away from the Sun at unimaginable speed
Our speed
The speed of light
In eight minutes and twenty seconds I will reach the planet you call Earth
Most of us will not get there
Only one billionth of us will arrive at the little blue marble you cling to
Imagine, all of you (and I don’t mean you in this room, I mean all 8 billion of you)
Would take off in the same second
But only 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 of you would reach your destination
That’s how many of my siblings I will have lost sight off
When I reach Earth, in eight minutes and twenty seconds

What will I do when I get there?
I could donate my energy to a plant
It will dutifully absorb it in its chlorophyll and store it in sugar, starch or oil
For you to feast on

I could get reflected off the ground
Flung back into space to travel to an unknown destination

I could hit a puddle and get absorbed by a molecule of water
As it takes me in it would dance and vibrate
until it jumps out of the puddle to float off into thin air
Leaving parched dirt behind

Or I could fall on you
Maybe I’d just warm your skin
Maybe I’d break a tiny, unimportant bond
In a strand of your DNA
Which one day will prove not to be that unimportant after all
Then, as your cancer grows,
You would curse the day you met me

Or I maybe I’ll just reflect off a lovely flower
And right into your eye
Where you sense me
And together with a million of my siblings
I would let you see
The most beautiful flower you’ve ever seen

Who knows what I’ll do?
All I know is that I’ve been
Struggling for a long, long time
And in eight minutes and twenty seconds
I will reach you