by A. E. Stallings
Mid-sentence, we remembered the eclipse,
Arguing home through our scant patch of park
Still warm with barrel wine, when none too soon
We checked the hour by glancing at the moon,
Unphased at first by that old ruined marble
Looming like a monument over the hill,
So brimmed with light it seemed about to spill,
Then, there! We watched the thin edge disappear—
The obvious stole over us like awe,
That it was our own silhouette we saw,
Slow perhaps to us moon-gazing here
(Reaching for each other’s fingertips)
But sweeping like a wing across that stark
Alien surface at the speed of dark.
The crickets stirred from winter sleep to warble
Something out of time, confused and brief,
The roosting birds sang out in disbelief,
The neighborhood’s stray dogs began to bark.
And then the moon was gone, and in its place,
A dim red planet hung just out of reach,
As real as a bitter orange or ripened peach
In the penumbra of a tree. At last
We rose and strolled at a reflective pace
Past the taverna crammed with light and smoke
And people drinking, laughing at a joke,
Unaware that anything had passed
Outside in the night where we delayed
Sheltering in the shadow we had made.
I especially like the couplet: “The obvious stole over us like awe, / That it was our own silhouette we saw, ”
And ” at the speed of dark” is a delicious phrase.