PoetryJoshua LewinComment

Dillard's Eclipse

PoetryJoshua LewinComment
Dillard's Eclipse

By Joshua Lewin

Rearranged from the words of Annie Dillard’s incredible essay about witnessing a total solar eclipse in 1979, this poem became the origin point for a five day immersive performance at Juliet in 2017, and if you are paying attention, you’ll note that its influence is anchored now in the development of the first year of this very magazine.

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It had been like dying, like the death of someone irrational sliding down into the region of dread. like slipping down that hole in sleep from which you wake yourself whimpering. we were in a strange place gathered on hilltops to pray for the world on its last day. we had all crawled out of spaceships and were preparing to assault the valley below.

It was odd that such a well advertised public event should have no starting gun, no overture, no introductory speaker. I was out of my depth.

What you see is much more convincing than any wild-eyed theory you may know. is entirely different from what you know. What you see in an eclipse…

blackbirds do fly back to their roosts

The grass at our feet was wild barley.That is how he used to look then. We had all started down a chute of time. There was no stopping it. We were in a lost platinum print, a dead artist’s version of life. the sun was missing; God save our life.

towns and orchards in the valley to the south were dissolving into the blue light. Only the thin river held a trickle of sun. and that was the last sane moment I remember. I missed my own century, the people I knew, and the real light of day.

Screams. Sun detaching. A lid. Brain slammed hatch lens-cover eyes dried arteries drained lungs hushed. No world.

The world’s dead people, forgetful of almost everything, recall us to our former selves. We got the light wrong.

I have never seen the moon yet

It did not look like a dragon, although it looked more like a dragon than the moon. It materialized out of thin air-- like a mushroom cloud, it obliterated meaning itself.

if you ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop with them farther over the world’s rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name.

teach our children one thing only, as we were taught: to wake up. This is all I have to tell you.

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