“As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse” by Billy Collins

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.

“As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse,” by Billy Collins from Nine Horses (Random House).

14 thoughts on ““As If to Demonstrate an Eclipse” by Billy Collins

    1. Deirdre, hi!
      I’m thrilled to be back, and even more thrilled to see you here. I went through a low period at the beginning of the year, well, since the election actually, and one of the poems I often reflected on was yours. The thoughts that most days of the week can be full of darkness and despair, but that on the good days life can taste as sweet as a breakfast of bacon and eggs and as warm as a comforting cup of coffee. I’m learning to refocus on the sweetness. Granted some days are hard.
      I hope you’ve been healthy and that your writing is going well. Feel free to message me if you have any pieces you’re particularly proud of or think would go well in the crazy here and now of this brave new world. xo, christy


    1. Hi Laura, thanks so much for reading and commenting.
      I took a long break from poetry at the beginning of the year in order to make room for more “real life,” but I found that my life was much emptier without it. Lots and lots of poems here in the archive to get you back into the reading habit 🙂 And as far as writing poetry? Well, I happen to think the world needs more poets, especially these days. Write on.
      Love, Christy


    1. Confession: I have his book Nine Horses, but I didn’t remember this poem being in it. I only found it on Writer’s Almanac by searching for “eclipse.” I guess poems find us (even if we find them first) when the timing is right. So glad the timing was right on this one for us. 🙂

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