Fireflies on Fire Island
Evening arranged its backlit clouds
like gauzy scarves around the blue-black
shoulders of night. Miniature deer
slept in the hollow as waves spilled
over each other, purring like cats.
The water was cold “as a case of knives,”
so we turned toward the boardwalk where
fireflies blinked, speckling the dark.
We stopped to watch flickering, elaborate
patterns of coupling’s call and response.
Bodies whirled, lighting the grove
with nitric oxide that lets their cold
luster flash. We’d stumbled into
a dream, then walked through its fire
to the city-bound ferry in the bay.
Front Page, Local News
At first, I notice the boy. He stares
out from the bed as if confused.
But he looks healthy—bared
chest pinkish, not even bruised.
It takes a moment to notice the man
posing behind him is the President.
He looks out of place in the picture,
surreal and stiff as a wax figure.
I want him to turn his gaze to the boy,
not the camera, to comfort the woman
next to him—the wounded boy’s
mother; her smile uneasy, broken.
It takes longer to notice the sheets,
pale yellow and papery, taper
toward the boy’s legs and feet
because they aren’t there.
© Matthew Ulland
Matthew Ulland received his MFA from New England College. He currently lives and works in the Hudson Valley. His poems, stories, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Barrow Street, Sequestrum, MiPOesias, Illuminations, The Inquisitive Eater: New School Food, Coe Review, The Meadowland Review, Border Crossing, LIT, Hanging Loose, and other journals. He is the author of the chapbook, The Sound in the Corn, and of the novel, The Broken World. Find more of his work at matthewulland.com.