The first fireflies

For Kim’s prompt over at Real Toads, Bugs and Insects. I love it!

shizukasa ya
iwa ni shimi-iru
semi no koe

it is so still—
singing into the stones,
the cicada’s song
My translation of Basho’s haiku.

The first fireflies
Listen to them—the children of the night. What music they make! Bram Stoker, Dracula

July –
Hot summer night.
So still, so silent.
I am waiting for the first songs of the cicada.
In the ground for seven years
until it digs itself out and finds itself a tree.
Mating time has come.
Into the silence breaks the song –
Raspy, twirly, the lone voice awakens a chorus.
The next night I sit –
The chorus of cicadas again begin.
In the blackness of the moonless night
I see it –
The first of the bits of mini-lightning.
Exploding here, there, high, low.
The fireflies have also awakened.
Randy mating bugs singing, lighting –
The song of summer from childhood as I sat
At my window – listening.
Running out to catch a few fireflies to put into a jar
Covered with screen and filled with some leaves.
Fireflies by my bed,
Cicadas outside my window.
At last I sleep.
The cicadas continue,
The fireflies shimmer until dawn.
I open the jar and they fly away home.
I return to my childhood every summer.


46 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sherry Marr
    May 26, 2018 @ 23:04:28

    I love “singing into the stones”. I am fascinated by the first song of the cicada…i didnt know they are under the ground for seven years before coming above ground. Wow.


  2. Jim
    May 26, 2018 @ 23:57:26

    Summer comes, introduced by the sounds of thecicada and sightings of the fireflies. We don’t have those here but summer already came. Highs will be 97 and 98 F next week. I grew up and knew those two well, even the jars.
    A nice read, Toni, it brought memories.


  3. kim881
    May 27, 2018 @ 01:13:12

    I love the quote from Dracula, Toni – at the moment we are listening to and watching all kinds of programmes about him on the BBC. Sadly, we don’t have cicadas in our garden but I have heard them in Italy and wish we had them too. They make a wonderful atmospheric sound that echoes with summer. That’s a great description of their song: ‘Raspy, twirly’ and how gorgeous to have fireflies shimmering until dawn.


  4. Kerry
    May 27, 2018 @ 03:06:05

    ‘singing into the stones’ I love how that is phrased. yes, cicadas are a ubiquitous sound of summer in my parts too, but I don’t get so lucky with the fireflies.


  5. Vivian Zems
    May 27, 2018 @ 06:40:12

    Another great descriptive poem….the song of the cicadas, the shimmering fireflies…a beautiful return to childhood.


  6. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    May 27, 2018 @ 11:47:37

    I love how you describe both the light and the sound… and so much I cannot refer too… and I think I cannot hear the crickets anymore…


  7. georgeplace2013
    May 27, 2018 @ 11:51:15

    The first fireflies I see each summer still fill me with delight


  8. Victoria C. Slotto
    May 27, 2018 @ 13:01:37



  9. annell4
    May 27, 2018 @ 13:16:43

    OH, Yes! You have returned me to childhood, too.

    Thanks for your comment on my post about chiggers and such, I am in trouble. Since they aren’t alerting me to know someone has made a comment…and I can’t reply to comments on my post? So I do it here.


  10. Donna@LivingFromHappiness
    May 27, 2018 @ 13:41:44

    This is fabulous….such remembering of our childhood dreams, play and inquisitiveness….I still wait and listen for the spring frogs, and then the summer insects. I was looking last night for the lightning bugs as it has been so warm, but it is still too early for them. Every time I see them, I am transported back to my childhood with that sense of wonder never diminishing.


  11. sanaarizvi
    May 27, 2018 @ 14:22:36

    I love the luscious and rich descriptions here Toni 💜 Especially; “The first of the bits of mini-lightning. Exploding here, there, high, low. The fireflies have also awakened.” 😊


  12. willow88switches
    May 27, 2018 @ 19:15:06

    Intense and all capturing of the delight in waiting …. the waiting … the impatience and then the absolute treasure of … fireflies … or lightning bugs. I loved the running about trying to catch them too …. and the screeching piercing “screaming” of cicadas? hurts my ears …. but it wouldn’t be summer without them – that’s for sure!

    wonderful to read about your treasured memories Toni!


    • kanzensakura
      May 27, 2018 @ 20:28:10

      Thank you. I like to think of it as songs. It can be pretty high pitched though. A jar of lightning bugs by the bed makes for a peaceful sleep!


      • willow88switches
        May 27, 2018 @ 20:32:47

        high pitched is an understatement – always gets me wincing, but I still wait for them to sing – because it has to be … otherwise it’s just “not rightfully” summer ….


        • kanzensakura
          May 27, 2018 @ 20:42:23

          LOL. When I was young I could hear a dog whistle. Now? I don’t hear the high tones the way I used to. I can see how their songs could hurt someone’s ears. But I still love them.


          • willow88switches
            May 27, 2018 @ 20:46:12

            it’s amazing – when I hear little kids, like babies through maybe 4 or 5 – and they get all over excited – and start shrieking, I swear the fillings in my teeth come alive and itch! Drives me batty! (not that its there fault or anything) but in my head I’m like “turn down the frequency!” …. dog whistle? eep, that is high …. rather that they’re used as much anymore – and thankfully, it’s changed for you. That’s totally “out there’ … for us … well most of us.
            Have a great weekend. 🙂


            • kanzensakura
              May 27, 2018 @ 21:42:29

              Lord. I can’t stand children screeching or babies wailing on general principles. NOT mother material here. Have a great weekend and stay cool and dry.

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  13. ZQ
    May 27, 2018 @ 19:41:40

    Awesome! Thanks.


  14. Mary
    May 27, 2018 @ 22:01:58

    Just beautiful! I have such fond memories of fireflies from my childhood. Your poem was very evocative, one to keep!


  15. dsnake1
    May 27, 2018 @ 22:25:34

    i wonder about fireflies in a jar. is it enough to light up a room?
    your poem is such delightful reading. 🙂


    • kanzensakura
      May 27, 2018 @ 22:47:59

      No it isn’t and the light is intermittent from their flashing. More if a pulsatibg glow. A lot of people will drive nails into a jar lid to give them air. I prefer to put some screen or netting or even a bit of pantyhose over a jar opening and fastening it down tight. With some twigs and leaves in the jar. They get air and are in their natural environment. The nail punched holes can injure the bugs if they climb up to the lid. You can let them loose in the morning. The light is like a dim night light. Five or six are enough. Very comforting glow.

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  16. Shannon Blood
    May 27, 2018 @ 22:48:42

    I really want to see some fireflies — I had no idea they were in the ground for 7 years! What a lovely read!


  17. magicalmysticalteacher
    May 27, 2018 @ 23:09:19

    Your poem helps me return to my childhood in Kansas. I loved catching “lightning bugs.” I rejoiced in the choruses of cicadas!


  18. thotpurge
    May 28, 2018 @ 05:48:12

    Love that thought of returning to one’s childhood in the summer… beautiful.


  19. annell4
    May 28, 2018 @ 09:00:42

    Thank you for coming to my site, and for reading and commenting, we will hold hands as we walk toward home.


    May 28, 2018 @ 14:23:59

    Between the cicadas and the fireflies we’ll be up all night!


  21. Brendan
    May 28, 2018 @ 15:20:57

    What a lush, enchanting choir!


  22. Janice
    May 28, 2018 @ 21:49:27

    Cicadas are so fascinating … a beautiful childhood story of your evenings with cicadas and fireflies.


  23. Tranature - quiet moments in nature
    May 29, 2018 @ 04:21:46

    A wonderful write Toni, I can see the fireflies dancing and hear the sounds of Summer in your part of the world. I absolutely love your translation of Basho’s haiku too 🤗💖 xxx


  24. Rosemary Nissen-Wade
    May 30, 2018 @ 10:00:05

    Very lovely, and evocative.


  25. Eddie Two Hawks
    Jun 01, 2018 @ 09:25:09

    These sights and sounds are rare in south Florida and believe it or not I miss them.
    Great post, thanks


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