Prelude to Spain: The Months
of Fireflies
by Michael Trammell

it’s late april or may, the months of fireflies,
and I’m waiting out the early summer heat,
nodding through the days until I leave

for Valencia. but the hours slow me. kill
the need to open wings for flight

that may kill me. my leg—with white stocking
like a flamenco dancer—feels the ticking
of cells that can’t squeeze through
the summer, can’t wait until the leg kneels

on Spanish sand. but instead I’m stuck
in late april or may, and the fireflies
surround the house like fireworks

will circle my 8th story window
in Valencia. do you see
look! how

patiently I wait for a universe
of smoke trails to engulf me? instead

I steer myself down our steep
dirt road, headlights

off, and I slowly watch the blink
of these hovering, mating

stars, my spacecraft a shell
for safe passage

of cells, as lit as fireflies, and dreaming
me a line, a starlit lane

to Valencia.


Michael Trammell is currently the editor-in-chief of Apalachee
and formerly ran the Anhinga Press/Apalachee Review
Reading Series at the 621 Gallery in Tallahassee.  His work has been
published in
New Letters, the G.W. Review, The Chattahoochee
, Pleiades, Sundog: The Southeast Review, Poet Lore, Gulf
Stream Magazine
, the Lullwater Review, The Nebraska Review,
Orange Coast Review, Permafrost, and other journals.  Trammell
is a Research Associate in Business Communication at Florida State
University’s College of Business.  In the summers he teaches writing,
literature, and business courses for F.S.U.’s campus in Valencia, Spain.

On “Prelude to Spain: The Months of Fireflies”:
In the summer of 2004 I felt haunted by a blood clot that had
nestled in a major vein in the back of my left knee.  This anxiety
had been lingering since my weeklong hospitalization and recovery
in March.  This theme haunts the poem and gives several lines an
elusive edge, an edge that mixes well with the piece’s broader
focus on longing, on escape.  The narrator desires not only to
escape the mundane, slow-paced life of summer at home but also
from the fear of the potentially deadly deep vein thrombosis.  

The poem’s imagery was inspired by an unusual, early-summer
burst of fireflies.  We live in the woods of North Florida, so when
the night air becomes thick with these winged-lights, I can easily
imagine that I’ve been transported to the center of the Milky Way.

Finally, my wife, the writer Mary Jane Ryals, and I cherish our
time teaching in Valencia, Spain.  We’ve become obsessed with
the city’s wonders, from space age architecture and fireworks to
the influences of Moorish culture.  The narrator longs for this city
as much as escape from home, from his worries.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 2, Number 2
(Fall 2007)

Copyright © 2007
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.