Holsteins and Lightening Bugs by John-Michael Albert

Holsteins and Lightening Bugs

Visiting relatives in the country, we were
sent outdoors. The adults sat in the tubular
aluminum and yellow Formica kitchen,
drank Folgers, smoked Camels, and talked.

We exhausted the afternoon ransacking
the farm. Come twilight, we went to visit
the Holsteins in the field across the road.
We stroked them through the barbed-wire.

To them, we were animated, sweat-and-dirt
covered salt blocks. They raked their rough
tongues over our hands and arms, matching
the tempo of the oncoming summer night,

the slow twinkle of the lightening bugs,
a visitation of languorous yellow stars.
The porch light went on back at the house,
a signal, and we all began to pray:

Oh, Big, Loud People,
suffused in the incense of coffee and tobacco:
do not call us back from this space;

do not make us leave this quiet world
of warm and spotted, milk-giving planets,
of winged and heatless stars.

But it was followed by the terrible, familiar
call to supper. We were compelled to betray
ourselves and go in.

John-Michael Albert is the editor of The 2008 Poets’ Guide to New Hampshire and The 2010 Poets’ Guide to New Hampshire. His published poems (2000-2005) are collected in Two-Ply and Extra Sensitive. Since moving to Dover ten years ago, he has frequently served the New Hampshire poetry community as reader, host, judge, essayist, board member, and ‘poet wrangler.’

Poem and photo are used here with the permission of the poet. All rights reserved.
Photo by Lisa Nugent, UNH Photo Services.

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