Firefly or Lightning Bug

If you are indeed a fly of fire,
impossibly incandescent yet alive,
why don’t high branches, kindled, turn to flame
            when you alight?

But if, instead, it’s lightning that you hold
pulsing inside yourself, impatient glow
some catalyst’s arrival will ignite,
            why don’t you strike?

Perhaps it’s fire and lightning you contain
those summer nights when, set loose after rain,
you flash among the dark trees, passing by,
            winged star that flies.

Ned Balbo’s books include The Cylburn Touch-Me-Nots (New Criterion Poetry Prize), 3 Nights of the Perseids (Richard Wilbur Award), and The Trials of Edgar Poe and Other Poems (Donald Justice Prize and the Poets’ Prize). He has received grants or fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (translation) and the Maryland Arts Council (poetry). In July 2021 he was a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.