We didn't have much of a backyard in our inner city neighborhood in Nashville, but Philip, my husband, got used fencing from a construction site he was working on and built a fence and a deck and a treehouse. Attached to the treehouse was a swingset with a bright yellow slide that I thought seemed very out of place in our dark, woodsy backyard.
One hot, July night as I was watching our son Don playing on the swingset I noticed a cloud of fireflies around him. (I was sitting on our new deck and feeling very hot myself.) That's when I thought of the campfire image for this poem. It felt like the earth was on fire! If it was, that would explain all these tiny embers flying about!
I went inside and wrote the poem and I think it turned out perfectly. Sometimes when I write I don't know where the poem will lead (i.e. in "Drip by Drip"), but sometimes I know exactly what I want to say and am delighted when it turns out.
I especially like the words "set" because the "sun has set" but the sun has also "set the earth on fire." I like "still," too, because it can refer to both time and motion. When I teach poetry workshops, I often use this poem as an example. It was also the first poem I got published, appearing in the July, 1993 issue of Cricket Magazine.