Upon a time prison bars
Went clank! Together—a hundred stars
Alarmed, lifted to sail in flight
Tilting toward more distant coils of night
To regroup noiselessly in braids of light.
Well, all the rest were gone, but I
And uncommon skill in one so young
Held in my hand
A phosphorescent firefly.
The evening was growing in a purple yawn.
The bats had other business
So the lawn
Had darkened faster than I thought
The time allowed—Perhaps I ought
To be inside away from all this strangeness
The indignant glow
Wrestling in earnest enmity against its jailer
Reminded me of what I had brought plummeting
Down from where the winds are delicate scarves
That are half jewel and song half
And that didn’t want to come
Getting along nicely just a flicker above the grass tops.
How does one dare
To pinion the wings of thought?
So I was confronted
With my hand again
The sharp points of the star scalding my hand
And sticking out through my fingers
Disturbed me. There were no more constellations
Diving between the knees of the apple tree.
I let the firefly go and went inside
And I think the stars returned.