TOTAL EECLIPSE OF THE SUN

Last year at this time, we were heading South. I wrote this description of the event when we returned.

 

A TOTAL EECLIPSE OF THE SUN

 

We drove to Virginia and picked up John’s sister, then drove on to North Carolina and put up in a hotel about three hours from totality, planning to get up early and drive south if the weather looked good. In the morning, reports indicated very little chance of clear skies in South Carolina, and perfectly clear skies where we were, so we opted for 100% chance of 96%.  With the blessing of the hotel clerk, John set up a sun-filtered scope in the courtyard of the inn, and we made our headquarters in the long hallway just inside. Staff people, who had seen John setting up, asked us if we were there for the “ee’-clipse.”  (We decided that we much prefer the southern pronunciation.) We said we were, and invited them to come back at 1:15, if they could, for a look.  And they came. We shared our ee-clipse glasses and John kept the scope aligned, and for the next hour people came and went and came back again to follow the progression of the moon across the sun. The manager stopped by and offered us coffee and told us that he’d studied astronomy in college. A few guests came out—one a remarkable woman whose blonde hair was piled on top of her head and decorated with plastic fruit. Two people told us that the last time there was an ee-clipse was when Jesus was crucified. We said, “Well, that’s interesting.” A young black chef who had joined us several times asked if it was okay if his mama, who had come to pick him up,  looked. “Of course,” we told him, and she joined us. She and I got to chatting after she had looked through the glasses and the scope. I found out that she was from Queens and had a sister in Poughkeepsie, near where my son and his family live. At the peak of the event, she and I agreed that the shadows were different; that the bright sunlight had changed. We were both wearing beige shirts and white caps. Her son stepped back from the scope and nudged me, then turned his head and said, “Sorry. I thought you were my mama.”  And I, a white woman in the country’s whitest state, without thinking, said the perfect thing:  “That’s okay. All of us mamas look alike.” He looked surprised for a minute, and then laughed, and nudged me again. One tall, elegant woman with silver hair stopped to look every time she passed through the hallway carrying a stack of linen, and every time, she jumped up and down and clapped her hands. Another woman, who had promised her husband that she would not look, even with eeclipse glasses, watched her and said, “I’ll just enjoy her happiness.”  After the moon started sliding away, people began thanking us and drifting away. John was packing the car, and I was in the hall, clearing the last of our things from the table, when the tall woman stopped by once more. “Thank you, honey,” she said. “Oh,” I said, “It was so much fun to share this with all of you.” And then she threw her arms around me and kissed my cheek. “I can’t wait to tell my grandkids about this,” she said. “I can’t wait to tell mine,” I said. Better than totality.

THE SHELL OF BELIEFS

from a prompt

THE SHELL OF BELIEFS

 

The chambered nautilus expands,

seals off each outgrown space,

and yet the empty rooms remain

as spiraled witness to the change.

 

The growing shell is not a burden

to the wanderer inside

who uses it to stay afloat,

and when it’s time, to dive.

 

And thus may we use all we’ve known

and all that we’ve believed

to navigate the sea we’re in

as long as we’re alive.

Winter Prompts #29: Credo

CREDO

I. Unum Deum

Nothing bursts into being.

Universes bruise together.

Where did the surface scatter first?

What if every what if is real?

The word we need is Emanuel.

 

II. Et incarnatus est

Comprehension: the whole

with its layers of gravity, darkness

at the center beyond the constant light.

 

Every fragment gathered.

One bread, one cup. Water

is wine, enemies beloved.

 

Every anxiety, every wound

of every small being wound

back into the singular dark where

 

division fails, the powers fall.

At the intersection of love and pain

all coheres, and is raised.

 

 

III. Vivificantem

It’s fire we breathe,

the gas of burning

cooked out from the deaths of stars.

Brood across our chaos,

flame through our loss,

singing our every tongue.

Fear not. We will conceive.

 

Cheating. I wrote this a long time ago.

Winter Prompt #22: Crust

CRUST

Winter Prompt #22

I used to study this stuff:

mantle, crust and core.

The mantle and core poetic,

metaphor:

                  Mantle

the thin dark covering

of protection, something

a goddess might wear,

or a saint.

         Core

the golden heat—at least

golden in the texts—

at the center. The wobble,

the weight.  But

          crust

recalls chicken pox blisters,

chapped lips, skinned knees,

burnt toast on school-day

mornings. Shiftiness,

instablility. Not poetic,

only metaphorical.

DNA

DNA

I spat into the tube and sent it off

and now I know:  I descended from a

crabapple tree. A nettle by the river

was my grandfather, but the oak I call

Grandmother is not an ancestor at all.

The snapping turtle I moved from the road,

the wolf spider I met in the garden

scurrying away with her white egg ball,

are second cousins. I am part fox, stillness

on the edge of the meadow. I am part

owl, passing on silent wings. I am thrice

removed from an otter, four times from a deer.

Catbird is my brother—I knew it all along.

We sing the same cobbled-together song.

April Prompts: Number 10

April Prompts: Number 10

Kari #4:  Something microscopic

 

WATCHING MOSS

 

Stems with branches simple or forked,

spreading or crowned.

Close-clung leaves in all their forms,

midribbed or not, toothed or not,

ribbed, folded or bordered.

Capsules in all their varieties:

hooded, lidded, puckered, reflexed.

No root, no flower, no seed,

some puff spores on breaths of breeze,

some make nests of eggs

to splash and hatch in place,

some brood branches break.

Drip water on dry moss

and watch the leaves unfold,

stems swell and sway.

 

As if that weren’t enough,

one late winter day, I watched

a scrap pulled from a rotting log

waken and fill with wet.

Oval mid-ribbed leaves

tight set. And as the leaves

unfurled, a tiny fly crawled

through my field of view:

one square inch, its world.