Kiss of the Wisp
A passionate force
Sails satin ships
On azure’s course
Brings kingdoms low
Beneath her spell
Bud‘s blossoms quell
Her call to arms:
“Rise color guards”
Unfurls scrolled psalms
Of knights and lords
In one accord
Earth’s harp and lyre
White cotton tale’s
Writ while donned
In cloak and veil
Silk bristle brush
Soft, tiptoe steps
Pierce earthen flesh
Long secrets, kept
Rakes for hands
Comb angel’s hair
Stretch sky to land
Form heaven’s stairs
Reposed in stillness
Wisp’s will to kiss us
Laid to rest
It showed up right on time—
A glow of blue in my vision line.
Long seemed the moment of unrest
’Afore I followed it into the forest.
In that moment everyone told me
“Other ways you’d much better be going,”
But their voices flew from my ears
When I learned they were only my fears.
So with crainte vanquished and gone
I followed the will-o’-the-wisp on,
Looking not ever behind.
The forest of trees, they were kind.
I remember there being only one firefly in my backyard, but it was bigger than the others and blue, and seemed particularly rare in the eyes of eight-year-old me.
As I approached it, more began appearing in a line. But I knew that I could only catch one (given their size), and had no interest in following them at the time. So I did just that, with a mason jar my mum gave me. At the time, I didn't associate it with the Will-O-Whisps I learned about from bedtime stories, since all I was focusing on was getting a cool night-light.
As soon as I caught it, I could see that it was angry, bouncing around a glass prison. The other "fireflies" disappeared when it was trapped in the jar, so I shrugged and brought it inside.
I then punched holes in the jar's lid with a pair of scissors, set it in my room, and fell fast asleep.
I woke up the next day to something poking my face. It was that firefly, only now its light was gone and it was actually a blue-and-grey butterfly. No, a person with butterfly wings.
I sat up so fast that it, she, fell off my head. I caught her, wondering how she had escaped the jar in the first place. I looked to the jar on my nightstand. The lid appeared to have been burnt, thin metal peeling outward from the inside.
I looked back to the fae in my hand, and, as if on cue, she burst into back flames.
The blue fire didn't hurt, but I still panicked and let go of the not-firefly.
Instead of coming back to me, the fairy floated down to the floor, as if waiting for something.
"No, come back!" I mouthed. Instead, she slid under the closed door.
After about a minute of waiting, it occurred to me that I was supposed to follow her and stubbornly got out of bed.
It was so early in the morning that my parents were still asleep, as was the rooster that would wake everyone up. (So, maybe 5 am?)
In a nightgown and slippers, I carefully snuck to the backyard, where this Will-O-The-Wisp was moving to. She stopped by the entrance to the forest, and just like last night, a line of more Wisps formed.
I didn't think much of going into the woods alone, at the crack of dawn, pursuing
a group of sprites that could be ill-intentioned.
After what seemed like forever of moving deeper into the forest, I got to an unfamiliar clearing. The line of Wisps was shortening, and by the time I was at the center of the field, the last one had disappeared.
Now I was truly alone.
I began investigating the area, looking for anything that the fae might want me to see: fairy circles (portals to their world), gravestones (their past lives?), bronze figurines (symbols of old gods), etc. There were only trees, grass, the usual field things.
Disappointed, I found my way back home, just as the rooster called out by the farm.
That night, when I went back to the backyard for another night of firefly-catching, the Will-O-Wisp returned.
There were still no fireflies.
"What do ye want?" I demanded, knowing that they couldn't answer.
Just like before, a line of them appeared as I approached.
Maybe they will take me someplace different, I thought.
So, I followed again.
Only for them to take me on the same route.
To the same field.
Just when I was about to turn around and walk back, I saw it in the corner of my eye.
There were so many of them, more than enough to fill the new jar I brought.
Later, I would learn that Will-O-The-Wisps bring people to their greatest desires. Some got riches, others lovers, others lost family members.
For me at age eight, that had been fireflies.
Unfortunately, I never saw a Will-O-The-Wisp again after that.
Dumbass In The Woods
It was supposed to be a simple overnight in the woods hike in, collect everything, make camp, wake up then hike out, simple right. Except the problem was Joe the guy who was supposed to do it broke his leg. There wasn’t enough time to find a replacement who could handle the science and also was an experienced camper. Joe’s the only one on our team who had ever even spent a night outside. I’m fairly fit so even though I’d never done this I was confident I could at least last a single night. I volunteered, packed my bag and set forth.
I always considered myself intelligent but I have discovered I am actually pretty stupid. First problem was my backpack, I usually only carry it from my car to class. Only after wearing it for longer than an hour did I realize how uncomfortable the damn thing is. It was all downhill from there. My phone broke, and with it went my map, compass and GPS, luckily it happened after I’d reached my destination. Next was setting up camp, it took me an hour just to put up the tent and by then it had gotten cold. It was summer so I hadn’t expected that but I had brought a lighter and proceeded to try and make a fire. Try is the main word, it wasn’t until the bic ran dry that I remembered you’re supposed to use dry wood. Feeling pretty dumb I curled up in my tent, my cotton clothes drenched with sweat from earlier and seemed to only make me colder. I knew about the dangers of cotton, but I’d thought that was only about winter camping. Eventually I fell asleep.
The next day was more of the same misery and idiocy, I figured I could follow the trail back. It was only after I lost sight of the campground that I realized there was no trail, I’d gotten there with the GPS. I used the sun to find the rough direction I needed to go but if I missed the road or parking lot I might never be found in this expanse of trees. Soon however it was down to low to see through the canopy and I was certain I’d run out of daylight before I reached the safety of my vehicle. That’s when I’d had it I sat down on a stump and screamed into the trees. “I hope you appreciate this, I am going to die trying to help conserve this forest.” The breeze ruffled the trees around me but not the ones above, strange but I’m sure a meteorology major could explain it to me. Then I saw it in the distance a light I swear wasn’t there before. I didn’t care, the light was to big to be a firefly so it had to be manmade, and humans meant I was saved.
I chased that light for hours well into the night. I swear it never seemed to get closer but by this point I was desperate and it was my only lifeline. Then suddenly the light was gone. I fell to the ground in despair and to my surprise felt asphalt beneath my hands. My eyes adjusted and there before me waiting was my car. I cried out “I’m saved! Thank you, thank you so much!” Then right in front of me the light flicked back and a tiny voice said “You’re welcome, keep up the good work” then faded away. I crawled exhausted into my car and decided to sleep rather than attempting to drive. I try to push the experience out of my mind, chalk it up as a mirage or hallucination but I don’t know how that would explain finding my way back. I don’t believe in fairies but luckily it seems they believe in me.