Glow Worms | Madhura Gune

Glow Worms | Madhura Gune

At 11 p.m., when the bonfire is exhausted,

It’s heat yet lingering in the denim on our knees,

Our attention must land on some other object of light –

Whether astral or artificial – to satisfy our primal

Photophilic need (the remains of our Icarian genes).

Here on our little farm – guarded by a plateau of

Bunched daisies, orchids, and tuberoses on one side;

And a reserve for photophobic tigers (though how

Their eyes shine topaz in the light!) on the other –

The sky, though dark, is bathed in the pearl sheen

Of celestial sequins: stars unchallenged in their brilliance

By brash city lights, which at this time of year

Set the satellite image of the national peninsula ablaze.

Not here, not here, where the closest city

Infected with illuminated infrastructure, and

Fireworks booming in the streets, is over an hour away.

Here, with our necks astrain, we discern constellations

We cannot name. Yet, as my mother, father, and sister

Count the stars, my attention turns to some odd, glowing scabs

On the rough skin of the soil: faint fluorescent green

Spirals daisy-stitched into the earth.

Drawn to them (wingless, bipedal moths that humans are)

I squat beside one and dig it up with my nail.

And just like that, its light turns off, in shyness,

For I believe these beings do not enjoy attention.

Littered to where the buzzing electric fence

Protects the wheat stalks in the night,

The glow worms – for that is what I think 

They are called – doze in bioluminescent

Contentedness. There is in them none of the

Anarchy of popping firecrackers, the vigour

Of colour-changing fairy-lights, the allure of 

Glowing cellophane- and plastic-haired lanterns;

The glow worms’ celebration is in their solemn, silent

Sparkling, barely visible through the muddy clumps. 

There I stand: imagining that the universe 

Is aged to some eon when all its stars

Are dwarfed and dim, and the Milky Way is flipped

Like a coin, forcing our children to walk on

The sky – for that’s how it feels to gaze at

These glow worms winking softly at my feet –

Until I am called into the farmhouse. 


Written by Madhura Gune

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