Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Lighting Up the News

Marilyn Kallet’s poem “Fireflies” will appear this week in newspapers around the country


In the dry summer field at nightfall,
fireflies rise like sparks.
Imagine the presence of ghosts
flickering, the ghosts of young friends,
your father nearest in the distance.
This time they carry no sorrow,
no remorse, their presence is so light.
Childhood comes to you,
memories of your street in lamplight,
holding those last moments before bed,
capturing lightning-bugs,
with a blossom of the hand
letting them go. Lightness returns,
an airy motion over the ground
you remember from Ring Around the Rosie.
If you stay, the fireflies become fireflies
again, not part of your stories,
as unaware of you as sleep, being
beautiful and quiet all around you.

Marilyn Kallet is a poet and writer-in-residence at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. American Life in Poetry, founded by Ted Kooser and supported by The Poetry Foundation, according to the ALP website, “provides newspapers and online publications with a free weekly column featuring contemporary American poems. The sole mission of this project is to promote poetry: American Life in Poetry seeks to create a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture.”

To download a pdf of “Fireflies,” click here.

To read another poem by Marilyn Kallet from Packing Light, the collection in which “Fireflies” appears, click here.