Monday, May 21, 2012

turn around, bright eyes


Homeward bound and riding shotgun on 580—long past those painted, wind-glossed hills, re-entering reality and Richmond. I look up from the dregs of someone else's root beer float and find the sky looks funny ... but I suppose it's some trick of the windshield. Unbeknownst and next to me, the driver's making the same assumption about his sunglasses.

Not until we're back in town does the sight of goggled and ogling children on the sidewalk jog my memory: eclipse! On front steps and cracked driveways people peer through assorted arrangements of index cards and cameras and mirrors; from somewhere in the park comes the inevitable arrhythmic blather of a bad Berkeley drum circle.

I'm giddy. It's ridiculous, but I'm thinking of cavemen. I'm thinking of pharaohs and farmers and sailors and soldiers, of anyone ever agape at a strange sun, at the sky ablaze with our smallness.


The world looks something like it does before a faint. Beyond that I have no description for the quality of the light—not the strange, hazy color, not the thin, crisp shadows between the leaves. And as is often the case when I can't find the words, the way is blocked by someone who got there first. Of all people, it's C.S. Lewis, in the imperious form of Aravis from The Horse and His Boy:

When this news was brought to me the sun appeared dark in my eyes and I laid myself on my bed and wept for a day. But on the second day I rose up and washed my face and caused my mare to be saddled and took with me a sharp dagger which my brother had carried in the western wars and rode out alone.
I turn away—she's armed, after all. But when I try again to write my way out of my own mute wonder, I run smack into Bonnie Tyler, who shoves me to the ground and starts to howl.

Once upon a time I was falling in love / Now I'm only falling apart
There's nothing I can do / A total eclipse of the heart



Katie P said...

Fear not: it was an annular eclipse. The next total eclipse visible in the US is in 2017.

alex said...

the first time i saw Total Eclipse of the Heart (its music video) was in college. my suite mate was obsessed with it. i think it was a sign.

Alia Salim said...


Alex: You may prefer this version. :D

Arielle said...

"A Horse and His Boy" is hands down, my favorite of the Chronicles of Narnia.

Arielle said...

"The Horse and His Boy" I mean. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you are really an amazing writer!! Know exactly what you mean about someone getting there first with the expression.