Light in the Boxwood

by Ainsley Kelly

On the curb, down the path,
a woman hunches over her cigarette.
Its tip warms with a sudden light
like bugs winking in Virginia
one half-remembered June.

The evening before my cousin’s wedding,
the kids ran barefoot in their dress-up clothes,
filled a jar with bugs, thinking the glass would glow.

Lidded, the jar was dark. We took it
to my cousin as a wedding present.
We wanted her to fix it. She let the bugs go.

Hunger can beat its wings so fast
that it looks like love. It flies from the body
like sparks in the wind.

We took the empty jar and went skipping
over the damp grass, sorry
to have no gift to give.

Tonight by the path,
the sides of a triangular topiary
stretch to the ground like a taut shawl.
The woman is only shadow and leaves.
An ember blinks and flies away.

Ainsley Kelly is a recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and of the Shipsey Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in Fourteen HillsQuiddity, Santa Clara Review, and The Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle, which awarded her the Eleanor B. North Poetry Prize. She lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.