Edited by Dava Sobel

That we need the sky

to tell us we don’t matter

is why, before totality,

we are so giddy and akimbo.

In its random masking,

how shall the Sun disclose its other light?

(We’ve not seen before.) And strange

air, dark and gray and silver

and soft and very precise,

emerges to pool around every

pore and shiver of skin.

Beneath our breathy hollers,

a river runs dark, sprays of pebble

-leaping riffles instantly aloft: Corona

crowns the south: Hole edged

with brimming sprays of light!

What is metaphor but secular alchemy?

Black flat sphere five degrees off the ecliptic

else each month we’d see

totality, normal as a door,

common as a starling.

Above the Little Lost River,

above the valley and its ranges,

above thrall, dumb totality.

And the Moon slips away, unseen, three

millimeters monthly and so on

etcetera till its visage will shirk this scene.

Orbits bloat. Eclipses are happenstance. Like us,

they’ll go extinct, the Moon to be

debris someday, a lovely

ring around a dead Earth.

But, ah, among the living: Crickets

at noon and humans hooting

with an owl, looking for

a gopher or at the light around the Moon:

Pink crust of flares like fire mountains,

like sleep to rub from the Cyclops’s eye

before his hot day at the forge. There is

light around the Moon: White

corona, a hand of streaming cilia

that warns and beckons. The rim brightens,

and fact makes terror wonderful.