On the fifth night
of my sixth summer
at church camp,
–nestled in the bustling hub
of a 200-resident backwater town–
I stopped a while to wonder
at a towering copse of trees,
sprinkled in the cold, wild light of fireflies,
each of a million
blinking its independent rhythm
in a silent, elegant mania.
“Look!” a counselor called to her kids,
noticing too the glowing trees.
“Look at the light show God put on just for you!”
This statement bothered me,
and for ten years now
I’ve been trying to figure out why.
Why someone’s spiritual understanding of
Pennsylvania’s state insect
could annoy me so much.
It’s not that I don’t believe in God.
and I like the idea of a divine energy
coursing through these beetles’ lambent asses,
But I don’t want them to care about me.
To say every time I walk up,
“Oh, he’s here!
Quick, turn on your butts!
God told us to!”
I prefer nature’s soft apathy
to a cloying, needy Creator.
But now I’m reading about electrons,
and let me tell you about these sons of bitches.
Not only do they lack
in uncertain “clouds”
of probable residence–
but their very essence
–wave or particle–
based on method of observation.
In other words,
how you look at electrons
doesn’t change how they appear to you,
it changes how they are to themselves.
Leaving me confounded
that lightning bugs
might glow ignorant,
but strip each beetle to its base
and you’ll find pieces
Maybe I’m so unsettled
because I haven’t decided
which one God is more like:
The personal, pliable fragment,
or the indifferent and glorious swarm?