Stored in Light

Michael Bernicchi

My grandmother said our past
is stored in light and we’re like
paper lanterns on a string,
and I used to wonder where
the light went, where it faded,
or if it ever did.

Like our summers in Tennessee
how they never seemed
to last;
they must exist
somewhere-now-somewhere I’m
running to the creek past my brother
whose eyebrows are
still coming back after
a bottle-rocket blast, and I’m
just a boy with skinned knees
and smile,
each scar a portal.

A footpath near the crick carves through
the gap, through the mist,
which hangs like a web until
it settles in the valley
and tucks us in with
grandma’s faded blanket
until we rip the sheets off
and run down the path
exhausted, past the gravesite,
past the beech trees old as god,
and I’m a wet seed just learning
to slay time.

[somewhere
I haven’t happened
yet, and somewhere else
I’m gone
and all at once]

And it’s nighttime,
and we chase fireflies,
store them in glass
and pretend they’re stars,
each jar a universe,
and the fireworks
still dance
as embers on settled
coals,
and my brother flinches
again with every pop,
not knowing his eyebrows
are already gone.

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