This is our 300th blogpost but wouldn’t you know it, there’s bigger news this week. A total lunar eclipse on Wednesday morning, May 26 from 03:11 to 03:25, a rare occurrence, a phenomenon that astronomers call a lunar tetrad, the sun, earth and moon exactly aligned, the earth between the two, the moon full. A super flower blood moon.
There’s a poem I’ve been saving, “As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse,” by Billy Collins. Conversational, witty and delightful, much like the persona he displayed when Magellan and I saw him perform at a festival in Key West, his poem captures how lucky we feel to travel this earth, to shimmer the joy of it, weekly.
“As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse”
I pick an orange from a wicker basket
and place it on the table
to represent the sun.
Then down at the other end
a blue and white marble
becomes the earth
and nearby I lay the little moon of an aspirin.
I get a glass from a cabinet,
open a bottle of wine,
then I sit in a ladder-back chair,
a benevolent god presiding
over a miniature creation myth,
and I begin to sing
a homemade canticle of thanks
for this perfect little arrangement,
for not making the earth too hot or cold
not making it spin too fast or slow
so that the grove of orange trees
and the owl become possible,
not to mention the rolling wave,
the play of clouds, geese in flight,
and the Z of lightning on a dark lake.
Then I fill my glass again
and give thanks for the trout,
the oak, and the yellow feather,
singing the room full of shadows,
as sun and earth and moon
circle one another in their impeccable orbits
and I get more and more cockeyed with gratitude.
So here we are. Orbiting, more and more cockeyed with gratitude, for your readership and your comments as we circle around together. See you next week.
Collins, Billy. Nine Horses. New York: Random House, 2003. “As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse” comes from this volume, one of his thirteen books of poetry of which we own maybe half. In the booklet for the Key West Literary Seminar that we went to, The Hungry Muse, Billy said this of himself: “Mr. Collins wants it known that he prefers restaurants that are staffed by elderly waiters who wear leather shoes and don’t tell you their names” and printed his seductively witty poem “France.” Crackling with humour, his poems arises “out of small, banal moments, unearthing the extraordinary or uncanny in the everyday, as their titles suggest: “Going for a Walk as the Drugs Kick In,” or “Listening to Hank Mobley Around 11 O’Clock After A Long Fun Boozy Dinner, the Four of Us, at Captain Pig’s Our Favorite Restaurant in Town.”
UPDATE: MacLaughlin, Nina. “Flower Moon.” The Paris Review. May 25, 2021.
Plimpton, George. “Billy Collins, The Art of Poetry.” The Paris Review. Issue 159, Fall 2001. Billy’s poetry has been described as a “a rare amalgam of accessibility and intellectuality,” fitting for an only child christened William who prefers Billy, whose mother was born on a farm in Canada and recited to him poems she’d memorized, a distinguished professor whose verse is so beloved and awarded that twice he’s been US poet laureate.