The Fear of Outliving the One You Love: Poetry by Amanda Montell

“The Lifespan of Stars”


nishe flickr

Sometimes I think about the lifespan of stars, and how the lifespan of a star depends on the amount of fuel it has.

For the Sun, they say it’ll be about 10 billion years, which is a long time, and I’m relieved I’ll never have to know life without the Sun.

Large stars consume their fuel very fast, and are short-lived, like large dogs.

But small stars called red dwarfs consume their fuel slowly and last tens to hundreds of billions of years.

At the end of their lives, they become dimmer and dimmer, but they never even really go out.

In fact, the lifespan of such stars is greater than the current age of the universe itself.


I hate to think about the lifespan of stars, but I can’t help it.

Because, I feel like a red dwarf, me, one of the small stars they say will live past the universe.

It reminds me so much of you and us and our eleven-year age gap, which may not matter now, but I am a red dwarf and you are the universe, and what on Earth will happen when I outlive you?


I’ve heard of some species of plankton and birds committing animal suicide.

I wonder if when the universe ends, some stars will combust before their lifespans are up.

I wish I felt as small as I know that I am.

I wish you were just as small.


nishe flickrImage © Nishe


Amanda Montell is one of the founding editors of FORTH, as well as a nonfiction writer, Angeleno and pizza enthusiast. She graduated magna cum laude from NYU with a degree in Linguistics and Creative Writing. Find her on Instagram @amanda_montell.

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