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


Rachel Cusk

The novelist on the “feminine non-state of non-being”
Merve Emre


Renaissance Women

A new book celebrates—and sells short—Shakespeare’s sisters
Catherine Nicholson

Fady Joudah

The poet on how the war in Gaza changed his work
Aria Aber

You Might Also Like


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