The path of totality lay 300 miles south. At its darkest, our patch of planet would be bathed by 90% moon, blackout rendered impossible. But we all walked outside to witness, anyway—to see what there was of the thing we couldn’t look at directly. At least you and I couldn’t, not at first.
When we opened the doors, August greeted us in a warm rush, and we roamed the campus mall greeting our friends, giddy in the glow of science, of novelty. They handed us paper glasses and invited us to look up. No one wanted to deny another human the singular experience of the spectacle, the sun temporarily converted to the shape of the moon. We queued up for colossal telescopes that brought the hot crescent straight to our retinas and then stood unmoored, marveling at leaves’ feathered shadows, the watery quality of the afternoon light. I watched as you willed your eyes not to go skyward without protection—watched you fight your childish instincts and win, over and over and over. I lay down and reveled at the grass in my hair and the outline of your body glimmering against the horizon. We bubbled over with existing, teeming with delight at being awake in the world. It’s how I discovered you were everything I’d ever wanted.
But I encountered another truth that day I wish I never had: 10% of the sun is so much more than you’d think. You can survive with that sliver, if you have to.
That’s just enough light to live your life by, if it’s all the light you’ve got.
B. Tyler Lee is the author of one poetry collection, With Our Lungs in Our Hands (Redbird Chapbooks, 2016). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in 32 Poems, Crab Orchard Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Spectrum Literary Journal, Sky Island, Acting Up: Queer in the New Century, and elsewhere. She teaches in the Midwest. Twitter: @BTylerLee7.