Chapter 16
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“Eclipse (8/21/2017)”

Book Excerpt: Between Chance and Mercy


In minutes, the moon will elbow a cool path
between earth and sun, make a shadow
of afternoon, throw shade
at the knowledge of man, his dominion
over creation.

In a 75 cent pair of glasses, I explore the heavens,
find the sun a ring of fire around itself. I’m listening
for Dizzy’s staccato brass to split the sky
or Jesus to step out on a cloud, point
to my name in the book. I would settle
for George Clinton behind the wheel
of the Mothership Connection.

Instead, in four days another year
will pass between this world and me,
55 seasons sifting daybreak from dusk.
Over the decades, my hair has thinned,
my sight bi-focaled and these bones

creak with my rising, sitting. But I remain
in awe of how the planet moves, that I have held
on all these years, have not been thrown
from its surface, waltzing across the universe,
a vertigo of desperation and light.

“Eclipse (8/21/2017)”

Excerpted from Between Chance and Mercy by James E. Cherry (Aquarius Press/Willow Books). Copyright © 2024. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. James E. Cherry is a native of Jackson, Tennessee. His books include the short fiction collection Still a Man and Other Stories; three previous poetry collections, including Loose Change; and the novels Shadow of Light and Edge of the Wind. He is president of the Griot Collective of West Tennessee.