July 1st, the Saturday—
before Independence Day at the hall.
My son wanted to buy fireworks
to play with at the children's fair.
Noon time came with its teacupped sunlight
and steaming table cloth of summer.
Sweat leaked from our temples
like too eager tears. And yet,
still he sprang, feet clanging like cans
till I smiled at them, in their shoelaced glee.
All I wanted was a cool drink,
maybe a beer and a few magazines.
So we drove down to the supermarket,
bought a pack for twenty,
You'll be seeing these for years to come!"
And I guess, even now I still see the night sky
as it breaks apart in the trembling light.
My son, now twenty, lives life with
a surly disposition. Quite
unlike the boy, who bought fireworks
with me at that far-kept supermarket
drifting off in the keen air.
He once gave me a look at Thanksgiving
that I couldn’t help but want
to drain the clouds from,
to see the sun still behind
such familiar, alien eyes.
Suppose I was there for him.
Suppose my father,
was there for me.
Would he have loved me like I loved my son?
Would my son love me
in twenty years, like my father never did?
In my mind, the two are one and the same,
the leather jacket, the hard eyes,
the shame he felt toward me
the only gay man in our family.
When evening comes, we'll sit on the hill.
Memories of his four-year-old self
trailing sparks like a cosmic shower.
Together, we'll watch the display
light up the sky of the 4th of July.
Thousand-Star rockets blend
a memory of color
that I'll be seeing
even now in twenty years.
My son glowing red, white, and blue.
I stand watching him turn
to his car, pass the lot,
on the same hill where we once played.
The old mirage fading in
like the globed bursts in
a swiftly-darkening sky.
I stand alone
with you and many
on my mind.
the beautiful wreckage of our lives.