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The lights come on and stay on under the trees. Visibly a whole neighborhood inhabits the dusk, so punctual and in place it seems to deny dark its dominion. Nothing will go astray, the porch lamps promise. Sudden, as though a match failed to ignite at the foot of the garden, the first squibs trouble the eye. Impossible not to share that sportive, abortive, clumsy, where-are-we-now dalliance with night, such soothing relentlessness. What should we make of fireflies, their quick flare of promise and disappointment, their throwaway style? Our heads turn this way and that. We are loath to miss such jauntiness in nature. Those fugitive selves, winged and at random! Our flickery might-have-beens come up form the woods to haunt us! Our yet-to-be as tentative frolic! What do fireflies say? That loneliness made of light becomes at last convivial singleness? That any antic spark cruising the void might titillate creation? And whether they spend themselves, or go to ground, or drift with their lights out, they have left the gloom, for as long as our eyes take to absorb such absence, less than it seemed, as childless and deprived as Chaos and Old Night. But ruffled, too, as though it unearthed some memory of light from its long blackout, a hospitable core fit home for fireflies, brushed by fireflies’ wings.
She had forgotten how the August night Was level as a lake beneath the moon, In which she swam a little, losing sight Of shore; and how the boy, who was at noon Simple enough, not different from the rest, Wore now a pleasant mystery as he went, Which seemed to her an honest enough test Whether she loved him, and she was content. So loud, so loud the million crickets’ choir. . . So sweet the night, so long-drawn-out and late. . . And if the man were not her spirit’s mate, Why was her body sluggish with desire? Stark on the open field the moonlight fell, But the oak tree’s shadow was deep and black and secret as a well.