“It is only in light that the colour of a thing is seen. Hence our first task
is to explain what light is.”
—Aristotle, De Anima (On the Soul), translated by J. A. Smith
When my dog entered the house,
a lone, lost firefly came, too,
wings flapping so fast, I thought, at first,
a wasp was wandering in.
After the bug’s red head revealed
its true identity, I looked around
but found it nowhere. I wondered whether,
like King Hamlet’s ghost,
it bid adieu, paling
in comparison to the dawn air
and intentional witness.
Now, I await the bioluminescence
twilight might expose.
Seated on my couch,
dog by my side, I want atoms
to animate the room as luciferin,
the molecule whose root reaches
down to Latin, lucifer, light-bringer,
combines with luciferase,
its catalyst cousin, to yield their cold
fluorescence, illuminating a primal paradox
even the fallen angels understand.