On a moonless night in August, under the gourd-rattle din of katydids, the forest floor is dotted with blue-green lights, dim as glow-in-the-dark toys an hour after lights-out: foxfire. I grope toward one at my feet, trace the shape of the log, then break off a glowing nubbin. It’s soft & flexible, & illuminates only the thinnest circle of the hand in which it rests. I slip it into a pants pocket, thinking I’ll show the others, but when I get back, somehow I can’t bring myself to mention it. It doesn’t seem right to parade such a recondite thing as if it were a trophy. A day later, it sits hard and shriveled like a dead ear atop my computer monitor.

I dream I’m sick
& wake to find myself well.
The tree full of birds.

16 Replies to “Charm”

  1. The whole first sentence is masterly, but let me gush about: “dim as glow-in-the-dark toys an hour after lights-out: foxfire.” The simile conveys such atmosphere and prepares me for the ending so nicely. I also love the change of sound and pace that follows the colon. Nice work.

    1. Thanks. I did a search and discovered this was the third time I’d written about foxfire here. This piece tells essentially the same story as my first post about it, but more successfully, I think. Proof that a bad memory is a good thing for a creative writer: if I’d remembered that first post, I never would’ve written this one.

  2. Dave, you always make me want to see these things. And ditto Peter’s comment: I felt like a chld exploring again. Thanks!

  3. I really like “the gourd-rattle din of kaydids” and your description of how “the thinnest circle of [the] hand” is illuminated. Last May I did a general search of sorts on foxfire with the idea of writing a prose poem. It’s more of a found poem at this point. Then there’s Robert Thomas’ poem “Foxfire.” Do you know it? The Japanese lore of the kitsune is also interesting to me. A tree full of birds. yes.

    1. I know it now. I found it on the Google.

      Yeah, Japanese fox lore is interesting. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “foxy lady.” But then Inari, the god of rice and prosperity, also has a fox avatar.

      Thanks for the comment. I hope you post your prose poem soon — I look forward to reading it.

  4. Yeah, I’m sure I’ve written the blog post I wrote today several times before. I just hope it’s getting better.

    I was taking it that the foxfire was rewarding you for your discretion by taking an impending sickness and putting it in the dream country instead of the waking country. But I’m kinda corny like that — that would be more of a Dale conceit than a Bonta one :-)

    1. You have to go out in the woods on a dark night without a flashlight. There are over 30 species of bioluminescent fungi worldwide; it’s not especially uncommon.

  5. I really like this piece. Rather haunting and immediate. I like the line, “A day later, it sits hard and shriveled like a dead ear atop my computer monitor.” Reminds me of how so many objects from nature seem once they are removed from their habitat. They change and seem to die or lose their essence. That’s one of the reasons I don’t bring things home too much anymore.

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