In the moments just before dusk
the light lengthens, lemon-gold,
over the grass: swells, then billows
flags of flame tearing in the wind,
wave after wave of ochre and umber
resounding on the shores of evening,
and finally becomes a thing almost
incarnate—the clear flesh of the orchid
evaporating on its stem
might be the opposite of this—
and thoughtless you reach to touch it
so it thins, fades, and is gone.
At dusk in summers past
the neighborhood children caught fireflies
in makeshift cages—mason jars
filled with water, their lids punctured
with an ice-pick so the creatures
could breathe. They couldn’t.
Dense humidity, July stars.
Eventually the fireflies would die.
I remember their bodies floating
dark and lifeless in the water
of their cages, abandoned beneath
the swing sets of the empty park.
I remember no one ever learned.
Yet the story of light continues
and has its inner analogue
in what is called spirit
which is only a word
and therefore a lie (all words lie),
but tonight I can’t tell which
of the stars above me are living
and which are dead. Does it matter?
Their light still streams across
miles and centuries, falling at last
on the frail, webbed branches
of the magnolia tree,
blossoming in my eyes. Share this Post
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