Sacrifice — a poem

Sacrifice

As a child, I drowned fireflies
in the river because I envisioned
them setting ablaze the forest like arsonists
I thought if I strained my ears
I could hear them sizzle like bacon on a grill
as they flopped about in the water
But they kicked their legs, belly-up
in the cascades of currents; leaves
their only life rafts, pulled them further downstream
their beacons flashed a silent SOS
When their glow softened to dull ochre
I gathered the ones closest to shore
tied strings about their tiny bodies
and as though they were hanged men
I sacrificed them to the trees

One summer, I overheard
that Sadie’s baby drowned in the river
while she fucked a married man
on the river’s bank. I imagined
the baby’s tiny body: arms flapping
like firefly wings as he gulped
water into his mouth; his immature lungs
expanding as he cried a silent alarm
and his too-large blue eyes staring blankly
into the world of trout and bass below
Alms to Nature

Now, floating down stream
inner thoughts bobbing
arms extended
I pay homage to the river
O sacred deity
I inhale and plunge backwards
into the cool recesses of its currents
As bubbles rise, my breath escapes; my lungs panic
Desperate Child
Yet the currents lift me
I surface unclaimed

© 1995, Lori Carlson

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