I have been out of the habit of attending the 4th of July fireworks in my town even though we live just up the street from where they are presented. It started when I had a child who could not bear the sensory overload of flashing lights and booming sound. Later, it was I who could not bear the mosquitos and crowds. And then, there was often a grandbaby to stay with that made it easy for me not to go. But this year, on Sunday, the 4th of July, I was coaxed into going.
“It’s just down the street. You can go home if you need to, but come!”
I sat on a neighbor’s concrete driveway and waited until dark. I looked up and saw splendor I had forgotten. The lights, colors, booms, and thrill of not knowing what would come next. I tried to pay attention and be present this year. (We have been through a lot as a nation, and it seems more has been criticized than celebrated.) But, that’s an essay for another time. Instead, here is my poem to try to capture some of the experience I had celebrating our America.
Spirals of fiery light
Shoot toward the stars.
A ball of light bursts into luminescent spokes
Tipped with red, white, and blue.
Colored bits of light fall like confetti and disappear,
Leaving spider veins of smoke etched on the night sky.
A ball of light surges upward again and again,
Erupting to rain fronds of sparkling weeping willow boughs.
Glittered fire-anemones briefly kiss the sky
Like celestial Queen Anne’s Lace.
It’s a wonder to consider
what gave man the desire to send earthly joy to
the glories of the night sky–even if just for a moment.