Kobayashi Kiyochika, 'Fireflies at Ochanomizu,' c. 1880 (Wikimedia Commons)

Branches heavy with the night’s perfume
the moon holds back the song
in her soft, bright throat,

the silence of a thousand moons
trapped in a thousand drops of dew.

Lightning bugs signal their location
in the approaching dark like God,
the ancient firefly, flashing,
disappearing, again, and again.

Is the next one the same
small beacon from a moment ago,

or some new light,
illuminating for only a flash
another infinitesimal corner of the cosmic dark?

Vernon Fowlkes Jr. is author of The Sound of Falling (Negative Capability Press, 2013). His poems have appeared in Commonweal, the Southern Review, the Texas ObserverWillow Springs, the Ampersand ReviewElk River Review, and Birmingham Arts Journal, among others. He can be found on the web at www.vernonfowlkes.net.

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Published in the July/August 2024 issue: View Contents
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