Another Family Zoom Meeting

Phoebe Reeves
| poetry

 

There’s a firefly in the house.
I tried to catch him

and return him to the long grass
of the unmown lawn,

but he slipped through my fingers and hid
somewhere in the curtains

or the pile of unsorted mail. Without your
summer visit, I’ve felt no

reason to clean the house. Dust
and unread books

and half-finished knitting projects accrue
everywhere. Even in a good year,

it was too long between hugs, too long
without the solid

realness of us all talking at once over dessert.
It’s the plot of an old

sentimental novel now, that I stay away
to protect you, that neglect

is the nature of my love. Why even leave the house
anymore? Why indulge in these poor,

thin substitutes? Synchronized loneliness,
together in real-time, not

even the methadone of missing you. Not,
perhaps, better than nothing at all.

I’d like to return to my lost firefly as though
he could carry

the weight of this for us, provide some helpful
metaphor, but what could I intuit

except that when he chose to stay inside,
he chose to die?

Unhelpful even obliquely. After we speak
through the screen,

I’ll go look for him again.

Phoebe Reeves is Professor of English at the University of Cincinnati. Her first full length collection, Helen of Bikini, was published in March 2023. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband Don, amidst her unruly urban garden.

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