Two Minutes and Thirty-Three Seconds

in U.S. by

Exhaustion at the wrong end of the day,
and yet all the experts assure me that after the drive,
the traffic,
it will all be worth it.

Vehicles originating from the mid-west,
their windows adorned with clever limericks
signaling our destination:
the path of totality.

Scientists have known this date for decades:
August 21, 2017.
In 1978, they stood before crowds
garnering excitement for the next solar phenomenon.

Today, pundits aired on the 24-hour news cycle
question scientists
and climate change experts
determined to nullify their findings.

These same pundits
embrace the forecasted darkness
as if they’ve seen the light.

Why do we trust the experts now?
We’ve questioned their findings on climate change and vaccines,
challenged the validity of their experiments
with words from a book written centuries ago.

The moon’s shadow now inches its way across the sphere of the sun,
a full hour prior to total darkness.
Anticipation from everyone in TN Tech University’s stadium is palpable.
Unlike typical event attendees at Turner Field,
today we’re cheering for the same team.

Halfway there, and the school’s drum line is performing,
yet no one can see the musicians.
The university’s dance squad and cheerleaders take over,
swaying their hips with their fists extended above their head
to Bonnie Tyler’s, Total Eclipse of the Heart.
Cliché.
Yet nice.

NASA telescopes and amateur photographers
with their fixed lenses
have established optimal viewing stations
across the field.

Everyone has adorned their approved viewing glasses
focused their sights on the heavens,
focused on the black dot darkening the world around us.

While excitement has filled my mind,
anxiety now grips my heart.
I want to cry. I want to laugh.
I want to securely embrace those I love seated beside me
to share this experience.
A fleeting moment overflowing with cosmic beauty.

We can look at the eclipse without our glasses,
look at the sun without worry.
The surrounding horizon aglow with pinks and purples
as if a sun has set at all four corners of the compass.

Everyone has a cellphone or camera pointed towards the sky.
Everyone is cheering.
The noise echoing off the bleachers
is drowned out by the visual spectacle.
For two minutes and thirty-three seconds,
the world around us is dark.

The initial ray of sunlight that peeks behind the moon’s shadow
illuminates the stadium as if only a day has passed,
as if nothing miraculous had happened.
Yet we cannot grasp the second hand of the clock,
we cannot hold on to this moment;
we’ll never be ready to release it.

 


Kate Craig is a seasoned Appalachian writer from Northeast Tennessee. She dabbles in poetry and short-stories, but novels are her forte. After spending a decade living and learning in Washington, D.C., she returned home to her roots in Johnson City, TN where she is working to be a voice for change while being constantly inspired by her hometown heroes.