lightning bug

by Gabriel Ricard

This is all a dream.
This is a card trick that covers
a world that breathes in the palms of your hands.

This is where light bulbs last for years,
where your father is too gloriously kind
and dull to be a sex-offender,
and where you don’t have to imagine
what it would be like to follow the Canadian geese
to their winter home in the way-out-there.

You’re not really sitting in a pickup truck.
You’re thirty-five, kids of your own
and thank-goodness
they’re getting along in life just fine.

You’re not actually twelve.
The heater in the truck actually works.
Your sister didn’t leave you to go into a house
across the four-mile street for “thirty or forty-five minutes.”

She won’t come back
with thoughts of how nice it would be for some rain and wind
to rip the roof off the truck during the long drive all over town.
Red dust swimming in her heavy, heavy eyes? Nope.
A bruise on her neck that takes forever to leave? Nah.

None of this has happened before,
and none of it will ever happen at all.

You’re not going to sit in that truck,
and try to count how many cars
are traveling on the freeway by the sound alone.

Never had to dread going home.
Never had to feel gratitude to your sister
for getting you out of that house for a few hours.

This is fantasy.
It just happens to be the kind of fantasy
in which you’ll see the other kids sneaking drinks
from paper bags with a skull and crossbones on the front.

Some couple who dances in their living room
to the glow of a laptop screen
and doesn’t care if the curtains are open.

Small dogs ready to go in for the night.

All of it is imaginary.
All of it.

You’re really at home,
and you’d really rather
be keeping company with branches mysteriously breaking
in the woods behind your trailer
than worrying about the homework due tomorrow.

You’re not even a human being.
You’re a lightning bug,
and you’ve just flown a little too close
to the paradise of too many possibilities.

Time to regroup and find safe ground again.


Posted on 04/03/2012
Copyright © 2022 Gabriel Ricard

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Vikki Owens on 04/06/12 at 12:36 AM

i feel it, honey. been there, done that forever.

Posted by Ame Ai on 04/13/12 at 01:23 AM


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