Watching the eclipse

On a snowy hilltop access to a wind farm in Maine
a couple dozen cars and trucks from several states
have crammed in. Trunks and van doors are open.
Lawn chairs abound. Pilgrims offer eclipse glasses,
share camera tips, ask where you’re from.

A rustle of excitement. It begins.
Glasses come out. A crescent of darkness:
the sun’s eyelid slowly closes.
Sky darkens. The last of the sun’s ring disappears.
Everything changes.

The light is thick, liquid, like mercury.
Waves of light-shadows shimmer across the ground.
In the sky, the pure black pupil of the sun,
surrounded by an iris of glacier-blue light,
on a field of purple sky with stars.
The eye of God.

Conversations break off, only pure utterances.
For two minutes, we stand on a strange planet,
merely beholding, citizens of the kingdom of awe.

Then the first glint emerges and the magic vanishes.
The glasses come back on, tracing the growing crescent.
Conversations resume, darkened with mystery, delight
and the humility of having witnessed together what exceeds us.
A minute later cars start up, and everyone joins a long,
long line of traffic down the country road in Maine,
back to the Interstate, to ordinary, fast, explicable life.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
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