eclipse-1999 Endre Bartos
A Solar Eclipse Picnic
by Cristina M. R. Norcross

We left the quiet dark,
the espresso café with tiny cups
and chessboard tables,
to venture into sunlight,
climbing a path to the open green
of Parliament Hill.
In the broad, bright sky,
kites were flashing their tails,
winking at us.
Red and white blankets were spread out
for barefoot picnics.
We brought our own luncheon feast,
snuggled side by side on the nearest bench.

I remember the wind
whipping my hair into a frenzy,
napkins flying out of my hands,
an errant chip falling on the grass.
Absorbed in the conversation of
what comes next,
what comes after Ottawa,
a solar eclipse shadow
swept across the city like a giant condor.
We hardly felt time pass.
Finally, the jolt of a foreign, noonday chill
took our breath away,
as if these past 4 years had been swept up,
hidden inside the smoldering sun.
Unknown skies awaited us
on a different Parliament green,
on the other side of the ocean,
on the other side of now.

First published in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, July 2022.

PAINTING: Eclipse by Endre Bartos (1999).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The memory of unexpectedly witnessing a solar eclipse in 1994 has stayed with me. My husband (then boyfriend) and I had recently graduated from university in Canada and were about to get married and move to England. We had no idea that the sky was about to go dark, as we sat down to have a picnic. I remember that feeling of stillness and experiencing the gift of time stopping. We spoke about our future, but we also rested in that one perfect moment of being fully present.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cristina M. R. Norcross lives in Wisconsin and is the founding editor of the online poetry journal Blue Heron Review Author of nine poetry collections, a multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, and an Eric Hoffer Book Award nominee, her most recent collections are The Sound of a Collective Pulse (Kelsay Books, 2021) and Beauty in the Broken Places (Kelsay Books, 2019).  Cristina’s work appears in Visual Verse, Your Daily Poem, Lothlorien, Verse-Virtual, The Ekphrastic Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, Of Rust and Glass, and Pirene’s Fountain, among others.  Her work also appears in numerous print anthologies. Cristina has helped organize community art/poetry projects, has led writing workshops, and has hosted many open mic readings. She is the co-founder of Random Acts of Poetry & Art Day.  Visit her  website,  and find her on Twitter @firkinfiction and Instagram @cristinamrnorcross.