we sat on a bench in the night
behind regulation lit condos
the glimmer of lake past trees
the rigged random lights
of civilization packaged & planted
in simple repetitive

this was as close
as i could be
to ecstasy —
where you refused
to make friends
with the trees,
knowing you’d eventually leave them.
this ecstasy
where the fireflies
surprised you
with the tiny flickering
lights that are summer
in ohio

once, in akron,
on a small square of grass
a romance of fireflies
lit my young poet love and me
under the balmy moon

but i was an asshole
and refused to love
each flickering part of him
the way i couldn’t help
loving you

you were telling me
what the trees would whisper,
the secrets they told you —
to me,
they only explained
the rhythm of life
and now that you’re gone
they won’t even do that.

now that you’re gone,
i’ve made friends with the air conditioner,
my car,
and some mystery novels.
i get my rhythm from the clocks —
one of them fast
and one of them slow.
somewhere in between
is real time.
real time is the place where we loved —
short & incandescent
as the life of a firefly.

wendy shaffer

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