I thought I saw a fire fly tonight, out on the deck, looking down to the back yard.
It flashed once, then again. I didn't have my glasses on--I take them off when I'm reading and on the computer--so I ran inside and tried to find them. I looked on one of the tables in the dining room where I sometimes eat and read. I looked in all three bathrooms since I often read in them and like to use them all....I found them on my computer table and went back outside and didn't see it though I watched and watched.
Then, when I took the dog out, I thought I saw a flash in one of the trees across the road. But I only saw one flash. Maybe I'm just wishing and hoping to see a fire fly. I miss them so.
My grandmother used to sing a little song to me that began:
"Glow little glow worm, glitter, glitter...."
though I don't remember the rest of it.
In the mountains of southern West Virginia, where I grew up, lightening bugs were ubiquitous . They were everywhere for months.
A couple of years ago I was in Washington, DC, at Howard University, leading a workshop. Some of the other people who were helping me lead and I went to dinner. Across from the parking lot was an empty lot near the Metro tracks. It was full of lightening bugs (which is what we called them back home). They practically had to drag me into the restaurant to eat.
I used to catch a mayonnaise jar almost full of lightening bugs. We made bracelets and necklaces out of them, I am sorry to say. "Like flies to young boys are we to the gods," King Lear observes, "they kill us for their sport."
I killed lightening bugs for sport. But there were so many of them, lighting up the evening yard, flitting to and fro, flashing, glowing, daring us to catch them. I remember their little black wings, almost plastic like, but it was their bellies we longed for and tore off and pressed to our sweaty little kid wrists and necks. We would be adorned with light in the humid evening while the adults sat on the porch and talked of serious, profound, ultimately boring adult things.
We must be too far north for serious lightening bugs/glow worms/fire flies. I see them from time to time, fleetingly. Maybe they are all just figments of my longing and imagination.
But they are back there in my childhood, back in the mountains, blinking in such abundance that even the fierce commitment of young children could never extinguish their glow.
I miss them so.
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