Fireflies and Real World Magic

I remember that you were supposed to smear them on your arms and face. I’m not sure I ever did that. It was another time, and the glowing death-smear war-paint of fireflies was a portal into a magic world: so very distant and misunderstood in large swathes of want. There was an element of fear in my hesitations.

Sometime the other is the object of a different kind of desire.

But I did watch them rise from the spongy ground. I came out of the trailer to watch them – the blades of grass cutting my bare feet, and the clammy evening pinching the skin on my arms. The world was liminal. As was I.

Leaving childhood: leaving the unexamined wholeness of the world.

Before lines are drawn, and boxes are stacked, to make a kind of sense of it all. A kind of sense partitioned from the body’s senses.

Experience is teased apart and analyzed by a present self: like a wine connoisseur remarking on the raspberry, the sulfur.

What cold imagination: judgement requisite to shame.

True wonder is necessarily destructive. A privilege to be harnessed within the space of a barefoot, naked circle.



5 Replies to “Fireflies and Real World Magic”

  1. This is gorgeous and powerful, Ren. I have thought about that destruction and how it helped lead to my understanding of and appreciation for the natural world. Mostly it was breaking twigs to see if they were still green inside or carving wounds in trees to watch the sap bleed. I never really killed or maimed insects or animals, intentionally (though a rainstorm drown the garden snails I’d been keeping in a plastic “bug house,” an experience that both traumatized me and helped me recognize that wild things should not be kept and that kept creatures are a huge responsibility). I did not grow up around fireflies. In my life, I have only seen one–the first one of the season, according to my aunt, on my final day in New Jersey circa 2004. Even still, they feel magical to me. I was heartbroken to read, recently, that they are in danger of extinction.

    I am in love with your thoughts about the self and of childhood and of the “unexamined wholeness of the world.” This is such a stunningly beautiful piece. Thank you.

    1. Oh, so wonderful to hear from you again, Carrie! I have missed your “voice”. It was that article that prompted me to write yesterday. As a kid, I had a really weird habit of breaking off bits of plants (I’ll have to look up exactly what kind of tree it was – those evergreens in california used for decoration so often – their little “needles” are segmented – kind of like snake-scales.) I would “meditatively” separate the little segments while I walked back and forth from school. I think now it must have been a weird kind of self-comforting behavior. My god, how destructive.

  2. This made me go hunting for the author your reminded me of, and the book your first paragraph made me think of … Eduardo Galeano, and his ‘Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History’. I think it was the beauty of your writing.

    1. Thank you again, Di. I have been happy to be writing again, but have felt it was very private. I appreciate the feedback.