The Applause of Fireflies

Posted June 25th, 2009

Last night, about ten o’clock, I opened the front door and invited the cat inside for the night. The weak glow of the houselights quailed in the glare of the nearby streetlamp; there seemed little to draw me outside.  Theo (Theodora Maud, really, named in part for Tennyson’s Maud: “Come into the garden, Maud, / For the black bat, night, has flown, / Come into the garden, Maud, / I am here at the gate alone; / And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad, / And the musk of the rose is blown.”) was invisible, silent, uninterested.

I went downstairs, extinguished lights, put the computer to sleep, and opened the back door to meow again into the dark. The light behind me picked out stalks of lavender, the leaves of a swamp magnolia, the fence draped with lonicera vines. All else was humid inky air pierced by the white-blue flashes of thousands of fireflies. I felt like a celebrity in the footlights of a great amphitheater, my ears full of froggy cheers, my eyes bright with the applause of fireflies.  I stepped deeper into the night, closer to my audience, and drank in their praise.

And then, comforted and grateful, I went upstairs. I called again to Theo who this time came and climbed still higher, and tucked myself in bed.



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