Green Hills Literary Lantern

A Thousand Fireflies




She didn’t know he was watching

from the window

when she stepped out of her pale lemon dress

and waded into the water,

limbs long and luminous,

tangle of glinting hair.

She sank to her knees,

took the chill into her body,

the day and its dazzle,

never turned to look for him.

He would have given anything

to be the water glazing

the smooth stones of her shoulders,

the word tomorrow on her tongue.


Yellow frills were falling

from the cassia they planted

when she called the next summer,

in tears, her adventure withered,

her new love not half the man he was.

He stood at the edge of the lake,

telephone warm in his hand.

A thousand fireflies

pricked pinholes

in the damask of dusk.

Her words grew wings

and drifted away.




Saturday afternoons, the adults indoors

indulging in country songs and cocktails,

we’d gather outside

fresh off the latest episode of “Combat”

to fight over the biggest gun.


I was the only girl,

paid no attention to the tease

of popcorn and fudge,

only the pop and burn

of caps in my weapon,

pine-cone grenades,

tangle of bayberry bushes

as I ran and hid, shouted

and shot my friends,

my face camouflaged

in dried-mud makeup.

Hit a dozen times, I refused

to fall until someone insisted,

“You’re dead!”


How fortunate my mother’s friends

bore no daughters.

I might have been stuck in my room,

enemy territory, dressing Barbie

for another date with Ken,

dragging out my dusty Dream House,

parting the curtain to watch the boys

and wanting to kill someone. 



Terry Godbey won the 2008 Rita Dove Poetry Award. Her chapbook Behind Every Door was published in 2006, reviewed in GHLL XVIII, and won Slipstream's 19th Annual Poetry Chapbook Competition ( She has published more than 90 poems in literary magazines including Poet Lore, Rosebud, Potomac Review, CALYX Journal, Rattle, The Cafe Review, Slipstream and Pearl as well as GHLL.