I Came From A Place of Fireflies


I came from a place of fireflies,
where men were reasonable and tall,
where people knew me by who my grandfather was, and his, and his.
Where farmers didn’t block views with trees,
To quickly see at a glance from the kitchen window
How the corn was doing, the soybeans.

Where cemeteries were so old they had no one living who cared
and the raspberry bushes
And groundhogs had taken over;
Where being a child meant living outdoors, year-’round.
Where you waved at a passing car
Because they probably knew your parents:
And you didn’t want to hear at church on Sunday about being rude.

I came from a place where my nearest playmate was a cousin, a mile away;
Where going to hang out meant
Riding the old fat-tired-hand-me-down bike,
With one gear, but was great for
Popping the tar bubbles on hot summer days;
And watching the big grasshoppers and flies whiz by,
the birds calling from the trees,
And watching my dog chase another rabbit.

I came from a place of spirits, haunted by the land,
by deep roots down five generations;
Where uncles and aunts would come over
for summer dinners after the milking,
And sit outside after dark in our yard talking,
And how those adult voices murmering made things
Safe somehow as
My cousins and I would chase each other
through the darkness, making up games
Hiding in the bushes and the darkness
on the edge of safety,
Thrilling in the freedom to roam, to be children;
In awe when the fields and grass would
Erupt in a billion fireflies, and we would put
dozens in quart canning jars
For study, and marveling at  yet another mystery.

I came from a place, a very common place, that had an order
Of season and harvest, planting and animals, birth, death, renewal;
A place where the farm animals taught
about sex very early, but also about stewardship,
pragmatism, kindness and death;

There were the late nights wading through
snowdrifts to the barn in February’s lambing season,
Fields draped deeply asleep in white under hard,
cold moonlight and wicked winds;
Of helping with the births—which only seemed
to come in bitterest cold—
cleaning newborn lambs off with
old burlap feed sacks
Holding the newborns under heat lamps
until their mothers licked them clean,
Made sure they found the teat and began to nurse,
coats still steaming, tails wiggling.
It was there I learned about birth, and
the miracle of it.

I came from a place that has slowly died since then.
I feel an ache of loss of a place
that gave me my sense of who I was,
Where the places I roamed with my dog
are  now owned by Arab sheiks,
where even bigness did not guarantee survival.

It is a place where the invisible glue that once
nurtured communities evaporated from
change and neglect and globalism and meth and, now, heroin,
Where people stay inside and hide from themselves,
Surfing the web for porn, and never once see the
Fireflies rising up in the June nights,
calling children to mystery but with
fewer there to hear the answers.

For Posterity
Origin Story


29 Replies to “I Came From A Place of Fireflies”

  1. I really enjoyed this. Brought back such beautiful memories of my own, thank you.
    And I love your reading voice! Your reading is well paced and authentic sounding, which I think is hard to capture. Impressive!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You asked about your voice. I think you could have a career reading and recording not just for yourself but for others. It’s a solid but gentle sound that could either soothe or entice one to think deeply about the words. The piece is beautiful and so very thought provoking. I’m glad you came from a place…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Capturing innocence is never easy. I try, but I always end up drawing from an expansive emptiness within. My posts end up being nihilistic and revolve around apathy and meaninglessness. But you, my friend, have so beautifully captured the effervescence of youth, and the enthusiasm of a time lost. Brilliant. I read it twice and absolutely loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is stunningly beautiful. I am such a fan of your writing. These places still are out there, but they are often isolated oases carved with intention out of the hustle of the modern world. We have them where I live, and I’m grateful. Thanks for this wonderful piece of writing and the smile. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderfully written. I can feel the freedom and sense of family in this piece. I grew up outdoors, while not on a farm, we were in the forests of Vancouver Island BC, yet I feel your writing somewhere in my hearts remembrance.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. At first, I planned to simply skim through this post. I’m glad I took the time to read it! It’s a beautifully written post. An ode to a time not so long ago but feels so long ago from neglect. Your words created a beautiful vision for me…I’m grateful.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. This one was a surprise, and I can slip into melodrama and sentimentality too easily. But there’s nothing wrong with sentiment, as long as it’s tied to something personal and authentic. That’s the theory, anyway. I’m glad you liked it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Such a poignant description. Fireflies fill much of my childhood memories – and cousins, and tar bubbles. Thank you for turning me on to Brandon McCoy. I’m listening to him now.

    Liked by 1 person

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