Today's poem is by Vivian Shipley

Fireflies Punctuate the Night

Our hands parentheses in the back field,
I know I am tempting my little sister with
Don't look, don't look to be sure. Just one
peek, and gold inches out of her reach, a lure

blinking like a Captain Marvel watch. In July,
in blackness, we nail five holes in metal lids
of our mason jars. I never figure out where
fireflies we don't catch go at dawn — under

porches, magnolia leaves, maybe Uncle Lanny's
Farmall tractor? I do not forget morning's lesson;
my sister chooses to not remember. A botanist
observing okra seeds left overnight in glasses

of water, she sees ebony swelling to opals. I find
fireflies gulping like Harlan County miners
tunneling for air. Bugs, they teach me nothing
about loss or searching earth for what has no

answer, like Demeter did after her daughter
was pulled from her through a pore in the ground.
I'm no goddess in mourning, negotiating with Zeus
to send Hermes messenger to his brother, Hades,

demand he return Persephone to the surface.
Still, with thumbs pressed together, I can cup light
until wings against the grate pry open my hands,
not my heart, to carry life back to the darkness.

Copyright © 2003 Vivian Shipley All rights reserved
from Gleanings
Louisiana Literature Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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