When I go down through the reeds,
making my skirts muddy,
my high-button shoes neatly together on the grass nearby,
birds extinct for years except as specimens
flock to me, calling.
Butterflies and moths in all peculiar colors
appear once again,
and I speak to them in the lost language
of former summers.
Here, I am a girl again, with a different name
but the same soul.
I'm an old-timey girl, daydreaming beneath the willows.
This morning, I collected the hens' eggs,
and holding them in my hand, the white shells made me think
of snowdrops, and writing paper, and June clouds.
No one will ever join me here, I realize.
I am a firefly girl inside the jar of my body,
graced with an afternoon's worth of air, but floating out,
until, by bullfrog dark, I will be only a curiosity,
like my birds, the butterflies and moths,
barely seen by a child leaning in her upstairs window not far away,
and she will wonder at what she seems to see,
a light on the water, there and then vanishing,
like her own summer days, though she doesn't know it yet.
May 28, 1908 Life magazine cover illustrated by Coles Phillips