Penumbra and the Cellar Door

Penumbra and the Cellar Door


Pretty word, Penumbra, deserving of a poem

and Cellar Door, two more together, a gift from

some English teacher many many years ago when

I was in third grade, she said the words and said

they were so lyrical and some words, when combined

had that magic beyond the meaning, it cut a pathway

in my mind, though it puzzled me for years until it

didn't and I understood some of what she meant.


The eclipse mooned Kansas yesterday and with the

cardboard eyewear I registered the slight scythe of

sun, the crescent slimmer than any moon on any

Arab flag, and then the word Penumbra flared around

the full black moon, and grass was individualized, no

longer just a pasture, but single stems dimensional.


My horses grazed around me, their grass-pull

squeaks the only sound, one gazed around when

darkness rose among the brome, and said the equine

equivalent of hmmm, went back to grazing. I may

have had a rapture of the dark where I quit breathing

for a moment, but it passed with the moon, and time

began for me again. Thin tattered veils of clouds slid

high and fast across the moonbit sun then it was whole

again and so was I. Penumbra Cellar Door I prayed.


Guinotte Wise

Guinotte Wise writes and welds steel sculpture on a farm in Resume Speed, Kansas. His short story collection (Night Train, Cold Beer) won publication by a university press and enough money to fix the soffits. Three more books since. A Pushcart nominee, his fiction and poetry have been published in numerous literary journals including Atticus, The MacGuffin, Santa Fe Writers Project, Shotgun Honey and The American Journal of Poetry. His wife has an honest job in the city and drives 100 miles a day to keep it. Some work is at

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