Where I come from eclipse was a verb. To be eclipsed, to have someone cover with a dark hand, with menacing intent, the light of your sun.
Where I come from to be eclipsed meant a jealous god beyond written time has seen your light and has descended from the vaulted heavens to snuff you out.
Where I come from to be eclipsed meant someone wanted to snuff you out.
It’s her again. I’m writing about my mother because that was how I claimed my life, how I moved from behind her dark shadow to look for the exit, the neon sign pointing the way out from under.
Where I come from it was not safe to shine. Do you understand what that means? I read acknowledgments in books….to my mother who gave me everything, who believed in me, who cheered me on, and truly I bless the ground you walk on, I’d carry your water just to know such mothers and daughters inhabit the same planet as I do.
Her shadow crossed over my sun and stayed, defying science, defying astronomy. When it came speeding towards me I knew I had no time to pack, to hitch a ride to another solar system, so I played dumb, played dark, lifted two wet fingers to my flame and extinguished it.
Waited beyond any reasonable time, waited until there was no more time, waited until finally with old age the shadow moved, a cremated celestial body falling back into the sea, and I could shine again.
I learned that I needed her to try to extinguish me so that I could outsmart her, outwait her, grow so fucking bright I became sun enough for one, for two, for three, for the family I grew in the light of my burning sun.
And more: I came to know that we were two sides of the same coin. Shadow and light. Anger and forgiveness. Fear and courage. Grief and emptiness. Everything I know about my strengths and will to survive I learned from her.
The fingerprint of her hand on my face is long gone, but now and then a solar flare, a burning out and up of a spark that says no eclipse will ever swallow the sun because there is only the dance between the two…light and shadow, in breath and release, hold and let go.
Where I come from to be eclipsed means to grow easy with the dance, rowing out on a moonless night onto dark waters, stripping down to my skin, phosphorescing under the endless bright stars.
All is suffering is a bad modernist translation. What the Buddha really said is: It’s a mixed bag. Shit is complicated. Everything’s fucked up. Everything’s gorgeous.
Robin Coste Lewis
My story isn’t sweet and harmonious, like invented stories. It tastes of folly and bewilderment, of madness and dream, like the life of all people who no longer want to lie to themselves.