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Mating Rituals of the Bioluminescent

Near the Malay village of Kampung Kuantan, male fireflies
coruscate in synchrony, thousands of kelip-kelip clustered
on each mangrove, blinking three abdominal blinks per second

to summon a mate. They pulse in unison, constellating a bend
of the Selangor as tourists in the twilight reach their fingers
from boat railings to catch the low green glow.
June through September, for three days after a full moon,
female Bermuda glow worms rise from the sandy bottoms
and gather in the island's shallows. At fifty-six minutes
past sunset, they swim circles, spitting out their eggs
in emerald clouds. The large-eyed males arrive,
flashing and flashing, ejecting their sperm into the sea.
Before we married, when I studied Keats and Yeats, and he studied
stage light, I drove to his apartment, the sky ready to rip into storm,
curled birch leaves eddying against my car. He stood in his door,

the frame of his narrow body framed, the world gone dark,
a strobe light beating white behind him, and I swear he looked
like lightning then, his fevered flicker drawing me up, drawing me in.

Corinna McClanahan Schroeder

The Gettysburg Review

Autumn 2012

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