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Necessary Ecosystems

by Clara Trippe

I moved to a city built on a marsh, and at night for the first time
since I was a child I saw fireflies dangling as if hung across
the humid twilight by a large and ghostly hand.
When in large groups, the flashes of luminescence become synchronized,
a visual choir with visual chord progressions, and we are not
entirely sure the reasons motivating the display. Our hypotheses, however,
include the usual: competition, warning, reproduction.

My hometown had streets like any hometown,
I say, waiting for the little white man. The buildings stop at three
stories, due to city ordinance and constant elegies for our unmarred
sky published in the letters to the editors section of our local newspaper.
Blue in sunlight and the Milky Way at night. My bones got strong from

natural light. My new city on a marsh was built like Paris,
cream brick, stately sky-scraping skyline and a memorial
for every war we’ve started. Sky-scraper.
Some words are better than what they describe. In my hometown,
I closed my eyes and skyscrapers became a long-handled tool;
I used it to peel back reams of blue air so I could see
what lives behind that distant color.

Now I don’t wait up for the Milky Way, and instead the trees
next to my house are painted in strings of insect light,
shimmering in a symphony of competition, warning, and reproduction.
Firefly: that’s a words that is exactly what it needs to be.
Bioluminescence sparkling along my tongue, and I tasted soft-bodied
beetles, glow worms bubbling with no mouth of their own.

When I moved to a city build on a marsh, I pulled back the shower
curtain to find a waterfall. The skylight in my bathroom
caught the sun in its glass and the water responded like it was waiting
for just that moment to grow a throat and swallow me. I stepped into
the stream of water and I became a body in a river of refracted glare.


Clara Trippe is a Midwest poet who has recently relocated to the East Coast. She is a recent graduate of Grinnell College and a lover of queer theory. Her work has been published in the Grinnell Underground Magazine and High Gloss Magazine, and has upcoming publication with THAT Literary Magazine.