Fireflies and Transfiguration

Jake Owensby

I grew up calling them lightning bugs. Somewhere along the line they became fireflies to me.

It doesn’t matter what you call them. At dusk, scores of tiny lanterns gently lit the backyard of my childhood home, each fading slowly on and off according to its own rhythm. A sea of twinkling lights would surrounded me, lift my heart’s heaviness, and still my racing mind.

Somehow those lights stirred in me a feeling of the deep goodness of the trees and the grass and the cicadas and even me despite the terrors that sometimes stalked my daytime. Anything seemed possible, even for a kid whose family was disintegrating, whose father alternated between charm and violence, and whose ramshackle house sat next to a junkyard.

fireflies 1

At the time I suppose I knew that fireflies produced their own light. Nevertheless, I imagined that the light came from a source at once beyond…

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