After the eclipse, Carbondale, IL August 21, 2017

Crescent moons cut      from the shade between
the breaks in the leaves,              decor on the planks
of the Adirondack chairs            on the patio floor,
where cops and surgeons gathered
in the yard:                      familiar strangers.

Dense bands of shadow            combed the tall grass.
Closer, unwanted advice              from a San Jose professor.

Before this,         minor disagreements:
my father and me, kayaking in silence.
The more we take photographs         of sun on the water.
Everybody has their own way of doing it. That painful quiet.
Whatever we want.

At the house, totality.

And me walking away from the crowd              toward the water.
A rim of sunsets where there normally was none.
His hand finding my back. A gray-white cloud puff
above the dark tree line. I have to go now.

A case of water—another way of
Come back soon. Over ten hours to think
how when the next one comes              in seven years:
What will I regret? What brief worry will sag inside?

In a crummy hotel, with his money folded in my pocket,
the terrible quiet that I’m always chasing          settles in.

Along the night’s detour,          I draft him a letter
that I’ll never send. This is the silent work:
slow-rolling through miles of cornfields,
somewhere outside Watson or Heartville,        I click on the radio.
Brake lights bleed          beneath the dusky light. The crackling voice
of a Pastor:       another evening’s cheerless blessing.

In the morning, a fistful of daisies        tattooed on a girl’s hand.
The soft spray of semis passing on the interstate         through Ohio.
A funnel cloud over a pasture. Clicking on my hazards.
And I’m supposed to be happy about what?

Honeysuckle after the rain. September back east.

I suppose I am lucky
the egret’s dry croak                    echoed off the limestone
and my father solved the silence
with his always yellow paddle             in our own dark lake
Sounds like it has a sore throat. And to think

sometimes I forget to live.