A. D. Lauren-Abunassar is an Arab-American writer who resides in New York.
Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, Narrative, Rattle, Boulevard,
and elsewhere. She was a 2020 Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg finalist
and the winner of the 2020 Palette Emerging Poet Contest. She is a graduate of
the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

On Holding a Dying Firefly

Rejecting fingerflinch at
small shuffling over
wellbitten skin. Trying to hold
a weight less than love. The firefly
less than living.

Hand extended the way
a tugged ripcord reaches
for another rush of air. Instead finding

Like stroking the tropopause.
A weightlessness that comes in longing
A piece of the glacier cleaved off
and afloat. The firefly finds twilight
a comfortless hour.

Expecting air and finding light.
The durable, permanent noun
of a body. The body
is all firefly and light snatched:
a reprimand. The cause of
winter's ceaseless coming.

There is nothing new to say about a firefly.
They tell me. The firefly is already
a poem.

A girl falls in love, in return
is given a firefly. No one asks any questions.
The water loosens an unheard sigh.

Like every stray animal you ever
returned to the wilderness: you don't pray
until you're frightened. You're frightened.

You saw a God in every
upturned wing. A whole season frozen
on a body folding in.
Like that firefly.

A summer that feels like a winter.
A rain that falls unchecked. Catch a firefly
the way you'd cup the storm when left
lonely. You know just sight never feels like enough.
You know enough never feels like enough.

It was a good night for poems.
A bad night for fireflies.
A good night for fireflies
who longed to be poems. A bad night
for poems who knew they could
never be fireflies.

Something true enough. A seminal
hunger. Hold the firefly's last
turning the way you'd cradle
a letter from a past life. You'll outrun this
it tells you. Gives no further

Like cupping the empty space left
in fontanelles. Like smoothing
an unborn daughter's eyebrows. The space
is made of the wings of lost fireflies.

The way you'd plunge
fingertip-first towards a lover. A voice
circles: but he does not love you. The voice
is not the firefly's.

Steady as any unchanging
owl. Cautious and
small and unhurried. Finally good or getting
better at Saying please. A kiss.
A small kiss
before leaving.

Like every stray animal you ever found
lost in the weedbed. Can I keep it? You ask.
This is not the love you are meant for.

Together, we rewrote the pantomime.
There are ways of beginning
that start with the firefly. Hold them the way
you held a smile in love. Forgiveness is a small
price to pay.

For every love left uncaught,
some light moves upward

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