Posted by: pendrops | June 13, 2006

chasing lightning bugs

Lightning bugs are flickering over the
fresh, summer-cut blades of grass
& under trees
& around hedges,
sparkling over the field across the way.

Would if I could chase them again?

I used to chase lightning bugs on
sticky summer nights
in my front yard on Wilson Street.
I’d put them in a
Hellmann’s Mayonnaise jar that
Mom would rinse out and hand to me
while she stood at the sink
washing dinner dishes;
& Dad would poke holes in
the gold lid,
taking his hammer and screwdriver
to it with a firm tap-tap-tap-tap.

And the sky would go from yellow
to orange
to burnt red
then pure pink dust,
(just like tonight)
but just light enough
to see my way;
& I’d tug a handful of blades out of
the earth, cram them in my jar, & set it
on the porch steps;
then I’d give chase.

I’d do my best to follow the flitting
& floating blinking, but they’d throw me off
when they’d rhythmically turn off their light
& turn it on again a few feet higher,
out of my reach.
Clapping my hands together,
I’d open them to find
But I’d still catch a few
& I’d place the sealed jar
on my windowsill,
watching them fall asleep with me, their
luminescence growing weaker, dimmer.

They look just as enticing tonight
as they used to on Wilson Street
& I have an inclination
to grab a Hellmann’s jar,
take off my shoes,

But that was a long time ago
and there’s no time for chasing
lightning bugs now;
not with the laundry
& dishes
& work
& bills
& grocery store lists
& errands
& commitments
& etcetera

& we always wanted to grow up so fast.



  1. This poem reminds me of poetry I’ve read from some of the great poets in literature, with an existential flair. I love it… and you, for that matter.

  2. Loved your poem – so glad you remeber so many of the simple pleasures from your childhood!

  3. The boys’ version of that story doesn’t end with putting the lightning bugs in a jar. The coolest thing about catching lightning bugs was to tear off the little glowy tail thing and stick it on your finger like you had a diamond ring, or even better, on your ear, for a really cool ear ring:-)

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