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Wednesday, July 04, 2007


by Lillian Baker Kennedy

For July Fourth, 2007
From Cook Street, Auburn, State of Maine, USA

The lime-green swatch of light over the boundary patch, reflects off Geoffrey,
our muted statuary, an otter in a tuxedo, standing erect, hands on hips. He peers

over his pince-nez staring down the empty chaise beneath the apple tree’s branch.
A Willie Nelson Sunday, the radio volume lowered, to let the birds sing louder.

One darkened gray alights on the maple, its immature limb leaving space
for a pause pitched (in just the right angle) - to frame a profile.

What’s wrong with this
that I should pause to sing

the cotton candy roses leaning lax, reaching out over mint to suburban streets,
the foliage-dense surround, the Great White Pine nestled in its needled bed?

The dog’s half-hare lies abandoned on the back porch deck,
remnant of a frisky tug of war. Should I ask for more

than a faint cat-call or the unseen chirp,
tree-tops rustling like Civil War skirts?

The forecast uncertain, the clouds mass up, but bright cerulean
breaks through - smudge in the overhang.

A sudden, furious barking backs off an intruder. A midnight-blue stalker
saunters its reply receding down the long dirt drive. All is still

but for the creaking limbs, the warbling wind. How full the garden,
strained at the seams by Queen Anne’s Lace nudging the roses’ knees.
And should I be thankful

for French toast, the energy to make breakfast after a night of dreams
tossed off, rolling over to sleep in the softness of sheets,
to dream again? Let there be a name

for duty to give thanks
however the din is dimmed.

I take this pen as my taper,
the backyard pursed in my coffers.

The wooden couplet swings,
pews for America’s shades.

I eat
and give thanks.

And yes, the evening bursts fireworks sounding death-knells
and shadowy flags seemingly remnants of better selves,

but not today.
Now, beholden

to those who are dying in their own sweet nectar’s
clotted throats, I salute them

and tell them, without judgment
of the good or evil of men’s ways,

the sun broke through on the white, almost funereal, blossoms
and lifted a spray of nostalgia.

For youth, I won’t be afraid
to go there.

Oh flag of thirteen stars, I see your circle. I hear your snare drum,
the strap crossed over the puffed, immature chest of fear and bravery.

And what youth might be lost if I don’t do my duty
coming of age in the churchyard of my bounty?

On Cook Street, America, not on her knees,
but straight - up the thorniest stalks,

one of yours reaps what you sowed,
a dream not always awake.

A promise falters, stumbles
and gets back up –

like here, in the garden, one of yours
(perhaps an apostate) deposits her courage.

Lit wick – spark saying grace.

Lillian Baker Kennedy, a 2005 Pushcart nominee, author of Tomorrow After Night (Bay River Press, 2003) and Notions (Pudding House, 2004), lives next to wild roses in Auburn, Maine.