Albeit a very cloudy one. Anyway, it got me thinking that the last time I witnessed one was August 1999 when I was all but 7. This poem is about when my maternal grandmother used to mind us while my parents were in work. I always thought – until about 5 seconds ago – that the eclipse took place after school but apparently it was in August, so I’ve change ‘school bus’ to ‘car’! Hasty change, but it’s more accurate. Not sure which I prefer, but I’ll use this version now. This was a poem I wrote after my grandmother passed away last year and I was remembering all the little (huge) things she did for my brother and I over the years. One of those things was helping us experience our first solar eclipse somewhat safely. Later my uncle turned up with his welding mask and we saw the sun through it with more ease. Enjoy.
In the bedroom that floated over your cottage
a window welcomed sunlit fields, green and gold,
the whole summer of our childhood.
From this quilted boat you showed us the darkest
day of our time, shallow as a mirror.
My brother and I clamoured in the gate,
the dust of the car fading behind.
Dickens’ spritely paws punched our chests
as he greeted us with slobbery barks.
His curly coat was cropped, his beard trimmed
neatly around his juicy jaws.
The kids are in.
You sat, or stood, buttered homemade soda bread,
dead-headed a bee-loved rosebush and broke the news.
“Today the moon crosses the sun”.
Angling a mirror to the heavens we glimpsed
a ghostly face steal daylight
as you bleached our memories with
the red sun of an endless summer.