The Fireflies are Dying (four drafts later)

The Fireflies are Dying

“Firefly populations are disappearing.”
–New York Times, 2008

They were everywhere
when I was little, “knee-high to a grasshopper,”
and now I barely see them flickering
in the trees out past the Wobbly Box –
the silly name that our friends use to poke fun
at Chris’ tiny trailer. He has to duck
to get inside the door. Most nights,
the four of us – three former football jocks
and one bookish girl –
sit on his porch, enjoying this odd cool summer
air that none of us are quite used to,
with its smells of rain and standing water.
The lights that he leaves on inside glare
through clouded, warped glass windows.

“…researchers suspect that artificial light…has an impact
on their ability to find each other
and mate…” –Associated Press, 2009

Once, Chris points the fireflies out,
blinking soft against the dark branches
and Big Dipper-ed sky. A few signaling planes
are brighter. The shadow of his arm
splays across the lawn.
It’s been a while since I saw
the fireflies’ patient signals – they’re so few
I’d almost forgotten they still come
when the weather warms – and for a while
we watch, quietly trading stories of cupped hands
depositing the flashing bugs in mason jars
a dozen full, poking holes in metal lids,
the nightlights of our childhoods.

“…urban sprawl and industrial pollution have
destroyed the habitat of fireflies…The spread of artificial
lights may also be a factor…” –The Independent, 2008

The fireflies are – still – dying. This last July
was more rainy than any that we’d ever seen.
We couldn’t stop talking about it – about the rain.
I wanted to talk about the fireflies.


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