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fireflies

So we went to an empty bar, like we normally do on a weeknight when we know we have to get up for work in the morning but we just don’t care anymore, and we drank, and we made fun of the people at the bar, especially the men, like the bartender with the sagging butt that we had to stare at whenever he made a drink, and then we drank some more, and then she talked about the love of her life who just broke up with her. She said she would marry him in a minute if she still had the chance. I still didn’t see it, he was a young, prematurely balding farm boy, but I just nodded. Yeah, it was love, and I knew where she came from, and we got depressed, and then we rambled on about how we hated our jobs, how we wanted to be independent, and then we started to laugh at everything, that’s what drinking does to you, I guess, and then we drove home.
””She parked her car at my house, so when I got us home (I still don’t know how I did it) she stood in my driveway, looked up at the sky and said, this looks like a sky to sit on your driveway and drink coffee in tupperware bowls and look at. I told her I didn’t want coffee, but I had an old blanket and we could sit in the lawn and watch the sky.
””And we looked at the sky and found objects in the clouds (it didn’t take long for one of us to find a penis), and then I chased a firefly, and then we sang songs from cartoons. And we couldn’t stop laughing.
””I told her about how my older brothers and sisters used to take the ends of fireflies and smear them on their shirts so their clothes would glow for a few minutes. Then I promised her I wouldn’t smear any insects on her.
””And we noticed after a while that the dew was settling on the blanket, and all over us, and besides, it was getting late, she had to take the train downtown early to get to work tomorrow, so I picked up the blanket, threw it to the side of the driveway, and waved good-bye as she drove down the road.
””I left the blanket there and walked inside. I’m sure I could fold it up in the morning.

””A week later I had a dream that I knew I was going to die. I didn’t tell anyone else about it because I didn’t want them to worry. In my dream I was making a videocassette message to all my friends. A good-bye message, so to speak. I told Sheri that I hoped her marriage went well, I told Kevin to not worry about business so much, I told Bobby I respected him. And then I got to you. I told you to really look at your life -- was it so bad? Your boyfriend broke up with you. Your job isn’t your dream job. But Christ, there are unwed 17-year-old mothers on welfare that kill their sick infant children because they can’t read the directions on their prescription bottle. Dream job? You’ve got a job, and it pays well. Boyfriend? You’re talented and attractive, you don’t have to be alone. We’ve got roofs over our heads. We’ve got food on the table, we’ve got clothes on our backs, and we have friends. We have reason to celebrate, not to cry.

””Well, in my dream I was dying, so I wasn’t going to have these things. But I’m not dreaming, I’m not dying, I’m not dead. I have all these things. We have all these things. And we have the fireflies.




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Chicago poet Janet Kuypers
on all art and all writings on this site completed
before 6/6/04. All rights reserved. No material
may be reprinted without express permission.

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