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edward palmquist

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fireflies

2017

It’s strangely warm as I become aware of my surroundings.
Twilight bathes the reeds as I brush them aside.
Cries of nearby fauna drift through the air
a chorus neither welcoming nor scornful.
Across my periphery,
infinite headlights come into and out of existence
anonymous yet comforting 
briefly illuminating the surrounding hillside
and advancing their respective plot lines.
Why is it always this place?
The creek bed below grows slightly deeper
the current cooly caressing my feet.
Slowly, pink light begins to bleed through the reeds.
So you’re here again too?
I emerge into a small clearing
the light briefly intensifying as my eyes adjust.
Standing naked
we silently acknowledge each other
free from shame and eroticism.
Some nights, a knowing grin adorns your face.
Others, a scowl resentful of all I’ve forgotten.
Sometimes I’m here alone
save for the vague echo of your words
growing increasingly incomprehensible.
Tonight, you’re emotionless
as if you’d only come into existence moments ago.
I step forward disfiguring our reflections
upon the once calm water’s surface at our feet.
My vocal chords refuse all attempts at manipulation
my words of comfort reduced to nothing more than a sigh.
I reach out to caress your jawline
studying the contours and texture
like a child would a newly discovered river rock.
As I brush against your earlobe
suddenly you begin to fade away
never breaking eye contact all the while.
When nothing remains but the fragments of myself 
reflected in your eyes
I cup my hands together desperately
in attempts to not lose those too.
Around me, the pink glow and headlights have given way to mere starlight.
A great fire seems to ignite within my hands
I clasp them as long as I can bear.
As I finally separate them, a swarm of fireflies emerges.
They briefly dance around me
before disappearing into the reeds ahead
like the chances we never took
and many words we left unsaid.
I now stand alone waiting.
For another day to try to forget you
and another dream to remind me why I can’t.

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