This poem was a winner of the BBC Proms Poetry Competition. The competition asked people to write poems inspired by a piece of music from the 2016 Proms Season. This poem was inspired by Vermont Counterpoint by Steve Reich.

Judged by poet and The Verb presenter Ian McMillan, Scottish Makar Jackie Kay and Poetry Society Director Judith Palmer, the winning poems were announced at an event on BBC Radio 3 as part of the Proms Season 2016.

Fireflies Unlimited

by Anna Kisby

We’re in the half-built house
in Vermont – me and the man
I nearly marry, but don’t – unroofed, holes
where windows will fit. In sleeping bags
on untreated boards, night falls and fireflies
arrive – a quickstep, a certainty, a flute added to
flute they synchronise. This was the dreamtime,
the simple time, that time between schooldays
and real life. Do you remember such a time
of firsts? We were living hand to mouth –
dollars counted into palms,
money soft as moth-wings.

In those days we went looking,
for what we didn’t know was there.
Our reward: fireflies without borders –
un-tame, a coming-together-last-minute plan.
we watch them sandpaper the sky, they jerk for joy,
they jagger, god’s own migraine. In lightning-tongue
they sing to us Forget your sad cities of light, we are
our own ferris wheels. 
Now the roof must be on,
the forest cleared for lawn, each patio slab
a square of extinguished light. Anytime I want
I can catch them there, fireflies in a jar – 
a torch-full of past, banging at the sides of this glass.

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”.  Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally.  Today it has more than 4000 members worldwide and publishes The Poetry Review.

With innovative education and commissioning programmes and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages.

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