I’m reading a poem about a firefly. It dispels the darkness with a blink, blink, blink but then with a flicker proceeds to take flight. When the firefly is about to be snatched from the air, it loses a blink, its blink’s not there, and when it feels trapped, its blink goes blank, and when its pursuer grasps and clasps, the firefly’s light shatters into shards, like stars that fall or diamond chips dulled.
I once knew girls who captured fireflies in jars. The jars were filled with clover and grass. When enough fireflies were caught, the girls would remove the bugs’ glowing tails and stick the tails on their thin fingers, and they would call them love rings, the glow of love wrapped around their fingers, glowing in the dark summer night , the light cutting through the warm heavy air, and I would tell the girls to let the fireflies free, let them loose from their prison jars, to think about how much it must hurt to be snatched from the air, to have their glow so roughly taken, to fly through the night with no light to guide them, and all for the sake of the glow of love, for rings of love, just for that, just for that these lightning bugs would no longer flash their bursts of light as the summer thunder rolled like kettle drum rolls as the fireflies flickered and flared over the lawns of summers in the firefly nights when I was a boy and little girls trapped fireflies in rehearsal for dark heartbreaks to come.
Years later, on a summer night when I first moved to the country, I parked my car by the side of the road, near a field of baled hay, and watched on a moonless night as thousands of fireflies danced their firefly dance in the still July air, lighting up the hay-scented field with a glow that filled my heart with joy and my spirit with love and my eyes with tears to bear witness to such beauty.
And amid the lights one light shone brightest. Could it be the firefly queen? The original light? All light came from her light and all light returned to it. Her light was the light of shards unshattered, stars ever shining, diamonds undulled.
If ever I see that firefly’s blink again I will not snatch it from the air, I will not make it lose its blinking beauty. I will not grasp and clasp. I will bask in the glow of its cool soft light. I will remember that love’s illumination shines brightest when its flight is unfettered and free.