What do fireflies eat, I’d ask / this poem’s naturalist / if it had one

The frogs were going nuts
driving the rivets
of their lust. I was hoping
to see the three fawns
who’ve been hanging in our yard
and/or the moon, and/or Jesus
climb down from the cross
when I was a kid and went to church.
That none of the fathers
with their many hammers
pulled the nails from his hands
and feet confused me
about the value of hardware
and love, for here was a man
who clearly needed our help.
Maybe that’s the appeal of nature,
that it doesn’t ask anything of us
yet it’s beautiful
to regret catching fireflies
and taking them inside
in a jelly jar with grass
when I was young, as if that
would keep them alive.
What do fireflies eat, I’d ask
this poem’s naturalist
if it had one and why can’t I meld
with dusk, and become
a recurring moment of the day
rather than a man? Is it weird
that I can’t recall
how many fireflies I killed
or do all mass murderers
lose count? I could listen
to frogs the rest of my life
and never get tired
of pizza and breathing
and never understand
why suffering’s required
but it is, as you know
from the nails in your flesh.
May you be blessed with a time
when three fawns
grow accustomed to your presence
and remain nestled in the grass
as you come and go
from work and other activities
that makes no sense
to them or you,
watching your face
with large eyes
that could be moons
to a much smaller,
more intimate Earth.

BOB HICOK’s Water Look Away was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2023. He has received a Guggenheim and two NEA Fellowships, the Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress, nine Pushcart Prizes, and was twice a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His poems have been selected for inclusion in nine volumes of the Best American Poetry.

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