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Sunday, April 07, 2024


by Bill Meissner

Though we don’t know exactly why,

we travel from afar just to see it. 

We’ll journey a hundred miles. A thousand. Ten


thousand or more. For some reason we don’t understand,

we want to turn our heads

toward the sun and see it slowly disappear, the same way

our hunched Neanderthal ancestors did, when they noticed  

a sudden strange moment of night just outside the mouth of the cave.


But we are modern, and civilized. We drive SUVs to Texas or Maine,

find the exact location with our GPS.

In case of a traffic jam, we pack the car with

rations and necessities: water, snacks, and cell phones.


We realize it will not be an easy journey.   

It will be almost like a war zone—

those four or five million people

all flocking to the narrow path  

where the eclipse

makes its total promise to the sky.


We don’t know exactly why, but something calls us to leave

the bright landscape where we live

and go there, to the land where the sun dims, and, eventually,

surrounds itself

with a thin gold wedding ring.


We’re drawn to that place, a place where we can finally put

our cell phones down, tilt our faces toward the sky,

hold hands with those we love,

and be primitive again, and full of something we don’t understand,

as we escape the world

for those four minutes and twenty-one seconds

of frightening, beautiful darkness.

Bill Meissner is the author of 12 books, including five collections of poetry and three novels. His most recent book of poems is The Mapmaker’s Dream (Finishing Line Press). His new carnival-themed novel The Wonders of the Little World features a fortune-teller mother who, with her precocious 11-year-old daughter, goes on a search for her tightrope walker husbandHis previous novel about the effects of the Vietnam War on a family in a small Midwest town is Summer of Rain, Summer of Fire.