A poem for late summer

Lightning Bugs

We used to keep our lightning bugs in jars
with holes punched through the lids so they'd have air.
They'd creep along the sides, their yellow stars
dimming to green in protest of our care.
To woo dark females hidden in the grass,
the bugs we failed to catch would gently rise
like champagne bubbles in a twilit glass,
filling the air with soft light and surprise.

Why did we want them if they couldn't give
the same delight when captured as when free?
We must have known they hadn't long to live,
yet, charmed by them, we couldn't let them be.

Beyond our grasp, erratic bats would weave
the spaces between maple crowns together
while clouds turned purple and the wind's long sleeve
swept our flushed cheeks, suggesting rougher weather.
                                                   --Kevin Durkin

I love how carefully observed this poem is, how it makes me see fireflies in twilight and feel the very precise delight they bring--how it critiques the urge to hold what can't really be held at the same time it makes me feel that same very human longing.

I'm looking forward to Kevin's new book, Los Angeles in Fog.


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