Maureen N. McLane

in mem. William Corbett, 1942–2018

The fireflies have come

And you’re dying

The fireflies have come

And your children are in Italy

The fireflies have come

And your wife is with you in Brooklyn

And your friend is in San Francisco

And John Brown’s body lies a-moldering in the grave

The fireflies are out

The fire tower is lit

The airplane tower blinks red

The mosquitoes are out

The fireflies have come

They are blinking to their fellows

They are signaling love or some other hello

They are tiny structuralists

They know everything is a system of differentiation

Some blink two some three then dark then

Some blink two some three then dark

As flies to wanton boys . . .

They live their life their fire flies

There are tears for things and tears of things

The fireflies are gone

Maureen N. McLane is the author of seven books of poems and of My Poets, an experiment in memoir/criticism. Her latest book of poetry, What You Want, will be published in May.
Originally published:
November 30, 2022


10 Ways Ms., Sassy, and Jezebel Changed Your Life!

How contradiction drove fifty years of feminist media
Maggie Doherty

How Emily Wilson Reimagined Homer

Her boldly innovative translation of the Iliad is an epic for our time
Emily Greenwood

In the Shallows

Why do public intellectuals condescend to their readers?
Becca Rothfeld

You Might Also Like

Poem of the Week

The Pill

Sarah Wolfson


New perspectives, enduring writing. Join a conversation 200 years in the making. Subscribe to our print journal and receive four beautiful issues per year.