Tuesday, July 18, 2006

P-town: Day 3

Last night I attended a reading with the poets Vijay Seshadri and Rebecca Seiferle. I recommend the work of both of these poets, because of their mastery of language coupled with their unflinching observations of self and environment. Both of them produce work that is accessible yet complex. The following poem is one Rebecca Seiferle read, and can also be found on the Ploughshares site:

Fire in a Jar

Some plucked from flight by sweep of net
or grasp of hand, immediately darken
and flicker out. A drift of stars becomes
mere green beetles scraping the glass bottom
of a jar. Other kinds go on flashing, ardent
no matter how captive they are, lighting
up even the smallest heaven. And still
others make a haze of their own longing,
dispersing themselves into a diffuse haze,
becoming a drop of sexual sunlight falling
upon the transparent world. Glass eye,
glass heart, glass jar, in which we try and keep
our flickering selves, all the light in us is sexual,
a luminous persistence—a heaven or a hell.

Rebecca Seiferle

Remember catching fireflies as a kid? Do kids still do that? They were magic to me when I was a little girl. I didn't know how they created that light, and I never thought to ask. I loved it.

The narrator in this poem observes the various ways caught fireflies respond. Some become "mere green beetles," others "go on flashing," and others "make a haze of their own longing." She compares the variations of this captive energy to human sexual energy, and observes that "we try and keep / our flickering selves" inside glass--to contain it, perhaps, to control it, to have it be seen and recognized but still protected. How we respond to our "caught" sexuality can create in us either "a heaven or a hell." Either way, this sexuality is an energy of light, an energy that insists on being seen and dealt with.


pseudonym said...

Reminds me of a girl that visted our farm when I was a kid. She was form AZ, which she claimed had so such creatures. When she first saw them she yelled "Those bugs are sparking!" Fire flies, sparking bugs. For me that was a moment "lighting up even the smallest heaven." Our smallest spaces, our most restrictive limitations can have moments of heaven provided we are gifted such a spark.

Robin said...

Enjoy your time on the cape!

Danny Sillada said...

I could relate to this poem very much because as a child between 5 -7, catching fireflies at nightfall had become my routine; it fascinated me how such tiny delicate insect could emit light.

Relating it to sexuality is quite the contrary. Growing up to adolescent stage until I entered the seminary to study priesthood, my sexuality had been repressed until I left and discovered my virility (Ha! Ha! Ha!). From then on, I had never been creative in my life.

Hope I could go there too at Provincetown. My application forms that was sent to me FAWC for fellowship both art and writing for 7 months is still untouched. Even then, I am not certain if I could be chosen among hundreds of applicants.

Enjoy my dear friend!

Pamela J Weatherill said...

Thanks for sharing! Love the memory of fireflies being brought to the surface ... love your blog.

MB said...

Very interesting poem. Thanks, Amy. I like the connection made to sexual energy which can be like firefly light, shimmering, effervescent, sparking, and ephemeral — and, like most living things, impossible to keep in a jar for long. We don't have fireflies here but I remember them as a child from regular visits we made to the south.

Amy said...


Sparking bugs, that's great. They still seem like magic to me.


Thanks, I am. Fantastic weather so far.


Apply, Danny, apply. Don't think about the others who apply. You have just as much right as they do.


Thanks for stopping by! Fireflies seem to invoke childhood memories for so many people.


I love that image, too, of sexual light being seen through glass, something fully seen but grounded in a vessel at the same time.

Juliet Wilson said...

Interesting and beautiful poem. I never saw fireflies as a child, never in fact until i lived in Malawi for a couple of years.

Imperfect said...

its a beautiful poem.
and its treu fireflies are the most gorgeous sight!
i don't know woo much about sexuality, i'm still a teen, and havent explored that aspect yet.
great blog anyway. its good to read some faboulous poetry.