Flight of the Firefly
There's a woman carrying her laundry down to the lake. I watch from a curious distance as she stretches out her arm and snugs the basket to her hip. It's generic white.
Her caramel hair is pulled back in a low bun, messy. She's about the age of longing and her eyes have begun to take the shape of sadness. She pulls up to the shore and sits down the basket, grabs from it a tiny dress. It's white with eyelet holes like the one I had as a child. She holds it up to the sunlight, appears to be searching for flaws, or dirt, or mistakes worth washing.
She crumbles it to her face, inhales deeply, then dips it in the water as little fish dart away. She retrieves the drenched dress and sets it aside, pulls the next tiny garmet from the basket, holds it up to the light, then swirls again.
It's the hour when sunlight shines at just the right angle where everything appears slightly more golden.
My curiousity feels oddly mixed with envy as I watch her sunkissed beauty move gracefully from one item to another. One by one, she continues this ritual until all the soaked pieces grace the ground next to her.
She arranges them in a circle, sits down in the center of it, cups her face to her hands. Tears stream down her cheeks. She appears to be un-becoming herself. I want to give her some of me.
I feel my father in the heavy summer air. I'm not sure if it's embracing or weighing me down, but I like it. Some days, it feels that I can barely remember him. It's ironic how things continue so much the same after death. Yet, things are never again the same.
Sometimes, grief is so palpable that I can almost taste it on my tongue. It is never palatable.
A mosquito senses the scent of vanilla and honey on my skin, takes a bite. I swat at my leg. He leaves blood.
Across the way, fireflies are needing light and bushes twinkle as if the sky has just fallen on them. I try following one with my eyes and become momentarily mesmerized.
Did you know that the word firefly in ancient greek comes from words that mean buttocks and to shine?
I prefer to think of them as tiny fires flying to spread light and warmth in the darkness, their tiny glow just an ember waiting for the right time to shine.
Where I'm from, we called them lightening bugs. As a young girl, I used to capture them in a jar and watch them frantically try to escape. I'd hold the jar close to my face, watch their light flicker on and off and on again as they tried finding a way out. It was a complicated feeling of wonder and power at a time when I had so little.
I wipe away the blood from my leg.
The moon glistens as the water's meditative lapping against the shore brings a new calm.
The woman washing laundry at the lake looks my way and our eyes lock. I want to turn my head, pretend I haven't seen her, haven't been watching all this time.
I feel an ember inside of me and flash her an unnatural smile - the kind that curves both up and down at the edges, the kind that says I'm sorry. I'm not sure if she can see it.
She folds each tiny dress and repackages them in the basket, places them on her hip, walks off in the direction of darkness.
Remember how I told you that fires can fly?