memory of a summer night, some years ago.
Do you know that secret place behind the cross-section at Water street? It’s a little notch, right behind the old Nynex junction box. When the trees are bare and the sky is dead you can see it. It’s just a little hole in the branches, right then.
But right now, everything there is green. Nobody but us could spot it on a day like today, the sun high in the sky and the forest humming all around us. A million tiny wings beat out a single chord down in there, but wide leaves and tall grass would keep you thinking otherwise unless you knew better.
One warm night, many summers ago, I asked her how she always knew where to find it. I was hunched over on a rusty Mongoose and wondering which way we’d come. She was walking beside her bike, smoking. The stream behind us didn’t seem to orient me at all, like it was snaking back into the forest whenever I turned around. The back wheel of her bike was making this circling metal whine & I would later tell myself as i drifted to sleep that yes, the forest was responding, rising in pitch and tempo.
After a minute she stopped walking and the trees fell quiet. “You have to look for the lights, dummy.” The tip of her cigarette made a lazy arc.
“The lights?” I asked. She handed me the bottle then and something turned over in the stream behind us.
“It’s the fireflies.” She said, turning away. “They’re always here, close to the stream.”