The children paint themselves with the rubbed-out paste of smashed firefly ends. They push through the weight of the dark with their skin illuminated by lightning extract.
Dylan Angell’s “Fireflies” is a poem that gave me Roxaboxen shivers the first time I read it. That was when Dylan shared with me the manuscript for Demanding the Room, a generously deep collection of poems and prose poems ranging between his native North Carolina and hovering afterimages (afterscents, aftersounds) of Mexico City, which we’re on the cusp of publishing, with artwork by painter Mark He.
Dylan spends a lot of time gleaning the wildland-urban interface around Durham, NC, and he has a knack for stumbling upon abandoned “bases” in the woods. Some of these hideouts can be imagined as the summers past encampments of warring kids armed to the teeth with sticks, stones, and barbed words—or, later, the dens of randy restless teens.
I’ve been meaning to ask Dylan if he nostalgically wishes he could still be one of these crusading youngsters, or if he’s relieved to have escaped adolescent society in one piece.
The children long to be less deadly even as they smash fireflies and pull fish from the river. It is impossible to stay innocent when you are bringing the presence of the dead back to the living.