The Difference Between Enlightened and a Lightening Bug

Which is to say the light we make with each other is beguiling—like watching fire, we can’t seem to turn away. Even when we feel burning, not a folly, but a madness. We’re charged with the pride of enlightenment. Especially in California, with our wildfires, our kale, our yogurt, we’re so enlightened, we walk around with incandescent globes over our heads. Some days, we don’t even use our feet. Just last night, my yoga teacher gave this direction: float to the front of your mat, and we did, we were lighter than air. Even our granite caves are enlightened. I climbed inside one once with a bunch of 11-year-olds, headlamp first. We single-filed it, found a flat spot, gathered in a circle, and I handed around a package of Life Savers, Wint-O-Green. Then I turned off the enlightenment over my head. It was pitch. Some of the kids were scared, but I started a story they each had to continue in turn. By the time they finished, their eyes had adjusted to the darkness, and I told them to put the Life Savers into their mouths and bite down hard. Sparks flew between their teeth, sparks filled the cave with fire, and there we sat in a circle, not floating but enlightened all the same, me and dozen young humans, watching flames leap from the fluorescent green mouths of their friends.

Marci Vogel is a native of Los Angeles, where she attends the University of Southern California. Vogel's poetry, essays, and translations have appeared in FIELD, ZYZZYVA, and Jacket2, among others. Her first full-length collection, At the Border of Wilshire & Nobody, was recently published as winner of the 2015 Howling Bird Press Poetry Prize.
*Photo courtesy of Michael Mol.
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