The Quotable

Firefly Murders

In my backyard I watch fireflies
Make Morse code flash patterns
Through the too long grass, spontaneous bursts
Of glowing blades.

It is black with the threat of storms
And that is why they gather here
So fiercely tonight no excess light
To interfere with their signaling.
The females hover upon the most rapid
Flashing male, firefly mating,
All that brilliant glowing love light.

I remember my old backyard in
That third house in Ohio, the big
One before dad left. I would
Sit with my mom and count the bats
Swooping from the willow tree. Suck on
Buttercup petals with the bitter taste of
Salted lemon. Wait the hour for the
Fireflies to arrive.

Sitting below her Indian style we’d watch
As they landed in her palm. There was never
Need to catch them. They trusted her, their
Delicate wings tickling her life line. She would
Curl her fist slightly to cup them inside,
Wait for them to glow and then rip
Their light out from them.

The fingers of her right hand like delicate
Tweezers, holding between human pincers
The glowing soul that makes us covet
The firefly. She would place the fiery jewel
On my finger, the gelatin drop that dazzled
Like her citrine birthstone.

With each finger lit up, each earlobe dotted with
Bioluminescence, I was a shining flying girl
In the night, Princess of Fairy Lights.

Decades later I ask,
do you remember this?
She says, that was cruel.
That was love.



Kindra M. McDonald has grown to feel right at home in her adopted Norfolk, VA. She is a graduate of Virginia Wesleyan College and received her MFA in poetry from Queens University of Charlotte. She is looking to publish her first collection, Concealed Weapons, this year. She is an investigator for the government, a volunteer for public radio in Hampton Roads, and cofounder and editor of Copaiba Press.


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