Some 5 or 6 or 7 billion years from now, the Sun will become a red giant star and will engulf the orbits of Mercury and Venus and probably the Earth. The earth then would be inside the Sun, and some of the problems that face us on this particular day will appear, by comparison, modest. On the other hand, since it is 5,000 or more million years away, it is not our most pressing problem.  But it is something to bear in mind. It has theological implications.

—Carl Sagan, The Varieties of Scientific Experience


on the southside of san antonio
a battalion of solar soldiers
faces the sun              this pasture
—commandeered      for service

flat panels capture formidable forces
that force south texans inside
every summer—a ball of gas
we take for granted

fire      flung into the sky
some say      straight from the
hand of god—old heat—keeps us
from freezing       in the void


under this same sun:

mahabodi & prickly pear
rice patties & corn fields
great redwood forests & the river nile

newts      mudpuppies     sirens in the glistening brook  
wildebeest & jackal on the savannah grasslands
elephant      resplendent with bangles and drapes
& her mahout at the amber palace

when human hands have done
and gone the way of the mastodon

still:  this generous sun

will shine

on the blessed and the cursed
on the wild and the tame
on the dirt path and the pavement
on the thicket and the pasture
on the cattle grazing

it will shine

on tented cities
on the homed and the homeless
on the seeker and the sought
on the walled out and the walled in
on the safehouse and the slaughterhouse
on the treacherous and the timid

from fuji and everest
machu pichu and jung frau joch
to the jarlung zanbo canyon

from the everglades to the mojave
from the painted desert to the cranberry bog

it will shine

on the hard hat and the redneck
on the white collar and the blue collar
on the iron worker and the coal miner
on the farmer and his field
on the mother and her child

on every leaf      it will shine
on every tree:  sycamore    maple   pine
all      all rooted in this good earth
                   —under this same sun

it will shine

on the lilac and the lotus blooming
on the monarch and the house fly
on the humpback and the piss ant
on the goldfish and the gorilla
on the toucan and the house cat
                 —sunning on the sill

it will shine

on every caste and class
on every beggar kneeling
on the ceo in his corner with a window
on the high heeled career woman
and the barefooted woman      walking for water
—her baby slung across her belly
—an olla balanced on her head

it will shine

on the road crew making way
on the mason and the roofer
on the terracotta and the thatch
on the flash of the warrior’s sword
on the backs of those who bow
on the believer and the unbeliever
on the protestant and the catholic
on the anglican and the jew
on the muslim and the hindu

this same      generous sun
solace     solar       solstice      el sol


you who have shined your holy eye
through ancient apertures:

— kulkulkan

you who have divided
the day and the night
you      whose light opens
the eye of each sleeping seed     
drawing food and flower
out from under black soil

you:      constant alchemist
—blending synthesist—your energy
becoming our very breath

you who bathe my body      brewing elixir
removing dark energy from every cell

how we worship you
how we adore you
generous sun:

star of our existence

you      who will one day
swallow      this planet


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d. ellis phelps

d. ellis phelps, poet, artist, editor is the author of three poetry collections and one novel. Her poetry, art, and essays have been published widely. She is the founding and managing editor of fws: an international journal of literature and art. She has edited more than a dozen anthologies and has taught fine art, including creative writing, to learners of all ages for decades. She is honored to receive a 2021 Pushcart nomination.