June Haibun: Fallen starlight

On my drive out to Gabe’s house about an hour before sunset tonight the sun laid on the landscape like a warm yellow blanket. The long shadows in sharp relief to the bright golden light only added to the effect, and it seemed to me like the sun was coaxing the thick green foliage out of the earth.

Dusk fell as we got the coals started. We sat in lawn chairs and sipped beers and watched the unused pasture behind the house, hoping to spot the first pinhead flash of light in the grasses. The time came and went when they had first shown the night before, and there was no sign. Perhaps it had not been hot enough today, perhaps it was too dry.

Then, with the steaks on the grill, I was talking to his mom when I saw a flash over her shoulder. Then another one showed up a few yards away. Then another and another and then the whole pasture was pulsating with the fireflies’ light.

We had a long talk about the worries and conflicts of life, standing at the edge of the yard, watching the show. It took a long time for the last glow to leave the western sky, but eventually it did and then it was just the silhouette of the trees along the creek and the hundreds of blinking bugs just above the tall grasses.

After we ate, they were still there. We made a big fire and sat facing the field, the phenomenon still in full swing, talking and sitting in silence, periodically. Then we walked a ways into the pasture so they were all around us. There were a few glowworms on the ground too and we walked along peering into the grasses, trying to spot them. This was a new sight for me, it was like little leaks of light escaping the earth underneath our feet.

There was nothing but the lights around and below and above us. Cars went by occasionally on the highway; the fireflies made no sound despite their need for attention. I thought about how I’d have to leave soon. It was late and I planned to get up early. But I stayed a while longer, because it won’t be firefly season forever.

Dew settles at dusk
A field full of fireflies
Dark barely holds on