Lightning Bugs

Because I can’t fly home now, there are things I’ve come to miss. Today, in July, it’s lightning bugs floating over the front lawn, sporadic showers of yellow-green luminescence— random on random off. We stalked

Because I can’t fly
home now, there are things
I’ve come to miss. Today,
in July, it’s lightning bugs
floating over the front lawn,
sporadic showers
of yellow-green luminescence—
random
on
random
off.

We stalked them at twilight,
the buzz of wings
tickling our cupped palms.

We let most go, trapping
a few in mayo jars, scattered
with the naive kindness
of grass and leaves.

How could we know insects drank nectar,
ate small bugs and slugs, or lit up
looking for sex?

Inspired by a flash of compassion,
some kids poked air holes in the lids.
Lightning bugs must breathe.

We carried our makeshift lanterns
until light died out
and left them on front steps
or under the azaleas.

Alan Toltzis is the author of two poetry collections—49 Aspects of Human Emotion and The Last Commandment—and two chapbooks, Nature Lessons and Mercy. His poems have appeared in numerous print and online publications and he serves as an editor for The Mizmor Anthology. Find him online at alantoltzis.com; follow him @ToltzisAlan.