Poetry       Essays       Letters

Sandy Lyne


Emperor Children Fireflies Moon


The emperor is in the garden.
He came there to admire the moon,
as emperors do.
His children hide there,
covering their laughter with their hands,
wishing not to be seen.
They, too, came out for the moon,
but they also came to catch the fireflies.


The moon is emperor tonight,
slowly crossing the garden
of the sky,
no children to accompany him,
an emperor alone.
Perhaps he came to play with
the starry fireflies.


How sad the emperor seems tonight,
and lonely as the distant moon.
The burdens of ruling are great,
and assassins could be anywhere.
He remembers his days as a child
when his only care
was catching fireflies in the summer night.


The emperor invites the children
to his summer garden.
They think he wants them
to admire the moon.
No, he wants them to teach him
their art of catching fireflies.


I want to grow up to be
the emperor of my life someday.
I want someone to love me, to think
that I’m the sun and moon.
But I will never outgrow
the job of catching fireflies
in the summer nights.


No moon tonight.
No matter.
Let him sleep,
that golden emperor
of the summer night.
I will be like children
happy in the dark,
their hearts made bright
in chasing fireflies.


Winter night, so cold
the emperor moon
a frozen statue
in the glistening sky.
Icicles hang from
the pagoda roof,
twinkling here and there
like summer fireflies.
Here, too, the snowman
left by playing children
to help us forget, for now,
the joys of summer days.


My father thinks he’s emperor
of our house.
His watch is ruler of his days.
He whistlers from the porch
to call me in.
It’s time, he thinks.
No moon tonight to give away
my hiding place.
I’ll come in soon, but for awhile
I want to linger—
and you can guess—
the summer night is full of fireflies!


Enough fireflies in my jar—
in the darkness of my room
they’ll replace the summer moon.
It’s good to be a child, I think,
to play, then sleep,
and be the emperor of my dreams.


© The Estate of Sandford Lyne



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