by Siv Cedering
What explanation is given for the phosphorus light
That you, as boy, went out to catch
When summer dusk turned to night?
You caught the fireflies, put them in a jar,
Careful to let in some air,
Then you fed them dandelions, unsure
Of what such small and fleeting things
Need, and when
Their light grew dim, you
    Let them go.
There is no explanation for the fire
That burns in our bodies
Or the desire the grows, again and again,
So that we must move toward each other 
In the dark.
We have no wings.
We are ordinary people, doing ordinary things.
The story can be told on rice paper.
There is a lantern, a mountain, whatever
    We can remember.
Hiroshige's landscape is so soft.
What child, woman, would not want to go out
Into that dark, and be caught,
And caught again, by you?
I want these pictures of the floating world
To go on, but when
The light begins to dim, catch me.
Give me whatever a child imagines
To keep me aglow, then
    Let me go.

Siv Cedering, from Letters from the Floating World: New and Selected Poems (1984: University of Pittsburgh Press). 

Sharing in the Imaginary Garden today for Brendan's prompt: STILL POINTS. Was reading and came across this, one of my favorite poems, and thought to share as I found it comforting.

Siv Cedering was a visiting poet when I was in college. I enrolled in every poetry writing seminar she offered. Siv was brilliant, feisty, beautiful, passionate. I can still hear her voice reading her poems, I can see her throw her head back, that mane of hair, her laugh. She influenced me enormously. She helped me learn and use my words, really to come into myself.


  1. Thank you for introducing me to Siv, of course I feel connected with someone of Swedish background writing in her second language. I can actually sense something Nordic in her words, there is a certain melancholy that I can sense. Then I love how she carried the metaphor for fireflies to that fire in our bodies...

  2. This is so beautiful, Marian. Such an immensely profound poem.

  3. So very beautiful. Thanks for the share.

  4. She has a beautiful story like quality to her poetry - I googled her and am excited to read more. How wonderful to be inspired by such a woman - to have listened and learned at her feet! :)

  5. Very pretty, Marian. I'm not smart enough to figure it all out. But I do see the diming light, says, "let us out." Much like "let us leave when the fire goes out."

  6. Thanks for sharing and introducing me to Siv Cedering. I love the firefly analogy.

  7. It's the precision in the naming what is simple and obvious, carving it just so that ledges open onto new experience. How does light transform? Where do we learn it, how can we pass on that "floating world"? By giving homage and space to those who have surrendered well. Thanks.

  8. This is absolutely exquisite, Marian ❤️

  9. This is beautiful, and yes thank you for introducing me to Siv Cedering.

  10. Magnificent poem. Thanks for Cedering!


Thank you for sharing your thoughts!