This is how it goes with poems.
I wanted to write something about the solar eclipse. It took a couple of days, and honestly, I’m still not sure I’m done.
First I tried to write from a Tweetspeak Poetry prompt about a flying machine from the point of view of the machine. So I wrote a series of haikus about a plane seeing the solar eclipse, thinking about my friend Laura Brown, who was flying during the eclipse. Laura’s pictures were great—my poem wasn’t. I erased the whole thing.
Then my husband sent me a map of the next solar eclipse in 2024, that will pass directly over Texas. I tried to write another series of haikus about that, mainly because I’ve never seen a national map noting both Piedras Negras and Killeen. That one didn’t do much for me either.
As I was falling asleep, I typed a single haiku into my phone.
It was not the end
of the world. Only darkness
only for a time.
I wrote it out by hand the next morning in my journal and thought about the obvious symbolism of darkness and light. About circumstances that seemed to be the end of the world, but weren’t. And then I thought about how after the temporary darkness I found the sunny side of my life and have been shining along, for the most part, until recent events conspired to block my brightness. Then I wrote a new series of haiku (with a few forays into Google, to doublecheck astronomical facts and the exact wording of Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”). I still may like my single haiku best, but here ’tis.
Most days I shine — sun
set in slow orbit (by time
not speed). I let them
think I rise and fall.
But today, briefly, you crossed
me, dimmed, blocked my bright
with totality —
blunt and brusque totality —
Still I’ll rise. I rise.