Careful in keeping to the lit path,
my headlamp splashes a blue slab of splintered pine
which has fallen across the deertrack.
Blazed neon with fungus, or Easter dye,
a salamander flames over its trunk,
and I see golden slashes resembling viper eyes
stippled down its back. What perfect wonders
dangle before me like a carrot
where I look for them in the circular field
of my light-emitting diode!
A few wayward particles of light escape
my headlamp's orb and a white birch refracts,
flashes into silvery being in my periphery.
Enough moon to see by, I click off my torch.
Fireflies. First a few, then hundreds
like I've never seen and never knew existed.
Synchronous, they twitter in tandem,
or one movement as if on a single string,
or many strings on the same circuit flicked on,
then off. I unfocus. Think emeralds,
or stars glint among needles at the forest floor.
I chase one to its source, expecting a jewel of dew,
find instead a spider's opal eyes,
more treasure I've been missing all this time,
just out-of-frame, just off the path.
Jonathan Travelstead served in the Air Force National Guard for six years as a firefighter and currently works as a full-time firefighter for the city of Murphysboro. Having finished his MFA at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale, he now works on an old dirt-bike he hopes will one day get him to the salt flats of Bolivia.
KJ Hannah Greenberg
Initially Thrilled to the Idea
MicroGod Schism Song
X and Y Axes of Charts
Made About T's Lover
White Night Terror