Gypsies and Fireflies

Where I Come From
By J. Marie Dolphin

I arrived in the middle of a deep-freeze January night, a newborn.
A blanket of snow glittered under the cold light of a full moon.
My grandmother later told me, “We come from a long line of gypsies.”
Indeed, a DNA test shows that my wandering ancestors originated in
East Africa and Western Asia, converged in the Mediterranean, then
Journeyed to Northern Europe, to finally homestead in Minnesota.
In the great flow of things, one state of being led to another.

Ever moving, some river-like force kept showing the way.
With brothers, sisters, in small tribes of neighborhood children.
We banded together to play games and sing songs not yet forgotten.
Out-foxing dogs and nosy neighbors, we sailed through
Our world of backyards and narrow alleys on tricked-up Schwinns.
We foraged stolen fruit, always the sweetest, when we saw
No parent, no God, could watch our every move.

Unexpected waves of change swept through the land.
“Duck and cover,” said teachers training children how to hide.
Under our school desks, we might survive nuclear missile strikes.
One Christmas, I prayed for world peach. Could we please have that?
I camped at the library with Nancy Drew, Mark Twain, and Anne Frank.
Illustrated Golden Comics resonated with possibility; I dreamed of
Flying like a superhero to save others from disaster.

Nearly 1,000 full moons have come and gone in my life.
Countless borders, oceans, ships, loves and dreams later, I see:
This gypsy descendent walks with billions of fellow travelers.
Our caravansary shelters under skies kaleidoscopic with distant galaxies.
From stardust to now, I come from everywhere I’ve ever been.


by Morrey Grymes

Fire flies,
on vacation,
dancing treetop to treetop,
baptizing trees
into blazing enlightenment
inspiring the black snow falling
upon the crimson carpet
beneath your feet
faster than you can run.

Is this a burning statement
from fireflies,
“We are not extinct,


J. Marie Dolphin.  After earning her B.A. in Human Services at the University of Western Washington, Marie served as Municipal Development Advisor for the Peace Corps.  She participated in OLLI classes long before retiring as Urban Planner with the City of Tampa in 2012.  Since then, she’s continued participation in a wide variety of OLLI classes and shared interest groups.  She enjoys international travel, hiking, kayaking, photography and writing.

Foreign Service retiree Morrey Grymes’ introduction to OLLI was taking Marilyn Bartholomew’s Life Story Writing (LSW) classes. Her encouragement and perseverance led him to sign up as a volunteer and to pass on much of what he’d learned about Life Story Writing, as well as other courses. He has also taken writing courses with Marilyn Myerson, whom he considers both friend and mentor. Marilyn is not only relentless in her encouragement but also imaginative and inspirational. He was fortunate to be one of the original members of Marilyn’s Writing Crew and continues to be a current crew member.


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