Poem of the Month: Fireflies

July 13, 2009 at 11:16 pm Leave a comment

Fireflies

Lately I had looked for you everywhere
but only night’s smooth stare gazed back.

Some said DDT had cupped your glow
in its sharp mouth and swallowed.
The loneliness of growing up
held small soft pockets you could have filled.

This summer I took my son
to the Texas hills where you startled us at dark,
ancestral droves swirling about our heads.
He thought you held kerosene lamps
the size of splinters. He wanted to borrow one,
just for a second, he said.
My head swooned in the blink of your lives.

Near a cedar-shaded stream where by day
fish rise for crumbled lumps of bread,
you were saving us from futures bereft
of minor lovely things.
You’re singing, my boy said that night.
Why are you singing? He opened his hands.
I sang to the quiet rise of joy,
to little light.

-Naomi Shihab Nye

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