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The Lightning Bug

By Adrienne Johnson

Section: Arts

October 5, 2007

There is a beetle in the bathroom! I roar triumphant
thunder drunk down filthy stairs to announce to the assembled crowd
of friends and failed lovers:
Its big.
Is it a lightning bug Zach wants to know and here I must confess
that I dont know, I have never seen a firefly, but neither has AJ
because hes from California and Im from Washington and we dont have
those there, so Zach explains
their biology and Lisa laughs and says that if you grind their ends
between your fingers you can paint yourself with glow
bare bronze arms and bellies in summer Mid-Atlantic streets
wearing white and dizzy from the heat and the night
you will glow green
then Jake grins and admits with glee that it only lasts a second, you can find families
of them, clustered vagrants on the ground, smash them in one fell,
definitive arc of your boot, oh murder them all for half a seconds pleasure!
Like weve done since we were young and didnt realize they were alive
I know he only says it to tease me, because Im the vegan and its easy,
but I wont pout, I laugh and we drink the wine he pulled
from nowhere and they sing me happy birthday because now
its three AM and technically Im twenty two
But I remember the bug upstairs, and when Emily says she has to use the toilet
I say no! me first its my birthday and I charge upstairs,
twenty-two and reeking of bonfire and whiskey and spring,
and I open the window wide enough that I can see the lights
of the parking lot burning up hard and bright behind the half-second silhouette
of the beetle, flying out away
he doesnt glow, because Zach said may is too early for that
but I saw his maroon head brush past mine and although I cannot be sure
yes, I know it was a firefly,
and it was my first, and they shall never have it

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