The first time I saw fireflies
I was with my brother in Illinois waiting for fireworks
It was dusk, and we were sitting in lawn chairs we carried from the truck to the open field
We sat back and gazed at the sky that was a lovely lavender-grey as the sun faded.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a twinkle
I blinked, then there were two, three, and exponentially what seemed
Like hundreds of twinkling fairy light
I have always believed in fairies, wishes upon stars
And the full Moon’s silvery light that sends a quickening through my belly
Surely, these living twinkle stars carry my hopes and dreams
Offered to the endless Universe.
I wonder about the two kimono-clad girls with nets against the black sky
Who jump and laugh,
Reaching high as they can to catch stars, they thought
Really though, it wasn’t stars but the flashing luminescence of bugs
Signaling for their mates before their love light cooled.
They gingerly place the light-bearers in each glass jar
Careful not to cut their tiny fingers on the jagged air-holes in the lid
They know that precious air is needed for life to survive,
The girls keep the jars close to their pillows to illuminate their dark dreams
And to find the path home
In the early morning, only a feeble light comes from the last firefly
Who wonders where his dreams of sweet love went.
In the cold morning air, the two girls cradle their jars empty of starlight
Filled with bugs collapsed, heaped upon each other on the jar’s bottom,
In single file
Step after careful step
They carry the dark jars to the yard behind their house
Bent in concentration, they lay the jars on the soft earth
While they use their hands to scoop out six inches of rich loam
And place the dark jars to rest under the growing light.
No words were spoken, there was no need for that
The two girls never used their nets to catch the light-bearers again
Still clad in their kimonos, but without high jumps and laughter
They admire the twinkling each season
With a sigh of sadness.
There is no wind sighing on summer nights in the Midwest
The nights are humid, only made bearable by the brief presence of fireflies
When care-worn faces gaze at the flickering glow
When burdens are easily forgotten, replaced by child-like wonder
Even if it is for a moment’s return to where wishes and dreams are possible.
My brother has long since moved to places far West of these luminaries,
So the image and wonder is drawn from my memory
Where the joy of discovery is still fresh
Reminding me there is real magic in this world
Easily felt on cool nights of the Full Moon
Or the just rising sun in the East
This magic speaks to the star-dust within us
A reminder that magic is a state of being
To be shared without fear or limitations.