A white dwarf will burn till the heat death of the universe: it takes that long to vent its fire, cool, and crystallize. As far as we can tell, this has never happened. A cold black dwarf remains a theoretical thing, like the dragons drifting over old maps to suggest danger, keeping to the seas, mythic signals. Different sea dragons do drift through kelp forests, endangered by the humans who dive there. Their fluted fins and scalloped edges do not protect them from the grasping hands, the invading garbage. They hardly seem to move. They have not learned to hate—as far as we can tell. There is no fusion inside a white dwarf, meaning it only emits what is already there, stored and waiting, left over from a giant star already broken. They are the faintest lights in the sky, and the densest. Like the sea dragons, they hide well, presence an inherent promise: eventual cold, and black, and drowning.
Gretchen Rockwell is a queer poet currently living in Pennsylvania. Xe has two microchapbooks, love songs for godzilla and Thanatology; xer work has appeared in FOLIO, Poet Lore, Glass Poetry, FreezeRay Poetry, and elsewhere. Gretchen enjoys writing about gender, sexuality, history, myth, science, space, and unusual connections. Twitter: @daft_rockwell; website: gretchenrockwell.com.