“Firefly Jar” Fragment(ed)

Drawing of Firefly Jar by Diana Barco

Firefly (Fragmented)

As a child, I was told that I was a star,
whose brilliance would light up the world like a jar
filled with fireflies.  In the place I grew up,
we’d crouch in dark grass, catching them in the cup
of a hand that quickly transformed into heart,
a roseate, luminescent, star part.
From palm, we would pour them into our glass,
so we could catch more, faster than fast….

Now, when I think back to that life as a star,
I see less of the firefly, more of the jar,
the air holes on top we made with a pick
used to pry nuts from shells, a sharp metal stick.
It tore holes that were cutting, jagged beneath,
and could easily pierce an insect’s bright sheath.
I think of those holes, the sharp underside
that ceilinged that glow, that unreasoning pride.

********************************************

I am posting above which is a fragment of another poem for Kerry O’Connor’s With Real Toads Challenge, to post a poetic fragment – the type of language one might save in a firefly jar.  I’m not sure this fits the bill as it really is part of an already written poem – on the other hand, it deals very directly with firefly jars! 

The full poem can be found here, and is in my book, Going on Somewhere, by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by the incomparable Diana Barco.  I actually think the shortened version, posted today is better than the full poem.  (I’ve never felt completely happy with the full version as it seemed awfully bathic and more than a little self-pitying.)  Another great firefly jar drawing by Diana Barco can be seen here.

I urge you to check out all the wonderful poetry at With Real Toads.

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21 Comments on ““Firefly Jar” Fragment(ed)”


  1. I like the changing perspective of life from that of child catching fireflies, then to the adult, seeing more of the jar than the firefly ~

    Lovely share K ~

    Grace


  2. If I had to pick two lines for my jar, these they would be:

    Now, when I think back to that life as a star,
    I see less of the firefly, more of the jar…

  3. aprille Says:

    Oh Karin, wish I had firefly memories like yours. Never even seen one. Seeing the jar empty is good too in my book. I love glass and see-thru things in any guise, with or without insects.

  4. hedgewitch Says:

    I used to catch them, but never could handle the jar part–mostly because I would have been soundly thrashed for bringing bugs into the house. ;_) (There was a strict anti-pet policy in effect during my childhood, let alone insects.) I love the rhyme here, and of course, the hidden message about the very real downside of all that ‘specialness’–like the line Kerry picked, but also the ‘roseate, luminous star part’–what a beautiful visual–and the sad realities of the last few lines.


  5. I LOVE seeing “less of the firefly, more of the jar”. Beautifully written.

  6. brian miller Says:

    interesting…i like your use of the firefly jar….we caught them as kids…the second stanza is really strong in how your views changed over time….and the touches of thta pride and specialness…

  7. Kim Nelson Says:

    So evocative of childhood and the change in perspective we develop as we mature.


  8. How differently we see things now that we are grown. I used to love watching the fireflies at night. There was such loneliness in me that it was comforting to watch them and hold them in my hand.

  9. Ella Says:

    I also love the views you shared~ How as a child we see with tunnel vision and our grown up self sees more….
    I love what you created~


  10. “Now, when I think back to that life as a star,
    I see less of the firefly, more of the jar,”

    Now, this…I like how much is said without saying, K, really well written fragment all in all. :)

  11. sreeja Says:

    very touching…a lyrical flowing thought with much to ponder upon…

  12. David King Says:

    Two thought strike me. The first, that you throw into vivid relief the difference between child thought and adult thought, which is not to denigrate either, The first is founded on emotion, the second on logic 9 (usually), infused (especially if you are a poet) with feeling.

    The second is how right they were to say you were a star whose brilliance would light up the world… It’s doing that for me – and many others, I am sure.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha. You are too kind (as always). The poem is a fragment–I think it is better in shorter form, but the middle – not posted on this go-round recites a bunch of bad events – negative epiphanies, if you will! Thanks. k.

  13. margaretbednar Says:

    The last four stanzas are such a twist on what I always consider “harmless” (unless one never let them go). Oh, what we do to nature!

  14. Marian Says:

    gosh, that’s just about perfect, especially the star/jar/firefly couplet others have noted. love. *runs off to find out more about your book*

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Well, one – the novel is comic – fun for a certain sense of humor – the poetry, of course, is serious, and the children’s book is cute (I think). Thanks much, K.


  15. What an absolutely wonderful poem! Very vivid!


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