The Alchemical Touch

Psalm 19:1

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Job 9:6-7

6 He shakes the earth from its place
    and makes its pillars tremble.
7 He speaks to the sun and it does not shine;
    he seals off the light of the stars.

We hurried ourselves to a high knoll in the high plains

and waited

but we knew not for what -

we knew not that we waited for the sun to be consumed the day to be erased the earth to be swallowed up in night and we with it


Odd only and curious was the slow advance of moon upon sun
with which it began, stark geometrical clockwork, one circle occluding another one

But eerie and jarring and glorious was the alchemical moment that came next


When first the golden light of sun, the only hue and cast we’ve ever known,

was sudden cooled to silver

so cool and distant did the light of that small sun become

that we seemed flung to some farther planet all chrome and steel and far and grey

Who knew we were so frail and small –

until the moon effaced that blazing ball?


When then the steady sturdy sky proved us false, faded away,

day withdrew and all was draped with th’rich red earthen hues of half light –

now day, now nearly night, in one fleet flight

Venus gleamed in the new dark sky

and neither eye nor soul knew why


And there where ev’r has stood the sun

hung a ring of blazing light lined with brilliant red

Up from the valley comes a single cry, a shriek of exultation or dread

while we gasp and glory and stare and seek to breathe

What is this thing this ring this crown

that moves us lift our hands up high or fling our small selves down?


There is no taking it in

Not a bit of it

There is only wonder and awe and glory

How does one return from such a thing?

David Henderson

August 21, 2017

After watching the total eclipse south of Crawford, Nebraska