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Saturday, July 05, 2014


by Marjorie Maddox

                                    Columbus, Ohio

This is a poem I didn't write
but caught, on the fly,
fumbled, words sputtering
like an exhausted firefly overcome
by the pyrotechnics of the Fourth.
The smell of words lingers.

At Whetstone Park fire
works almost as well
as words ignited in near-
dusk by families on folding chairs
waiting for something,
a drive-in theatre of lights
with no screen.

And these relatives I'm just beginning to know
because my father died,
and this man I just married,
all write the poem, spark
the concatenations that rise
into my ahhh!

The sharpest among us forgets
whole sentences, remembers
the lives gone
out—in our group of five:
three fathers, two mothers, one brother.  Her old words swell,
minute explosions, articulate
across our graying sky.

This is the telling of time,
tickings both loud and soft
we forget we are listening
for what we've lost:
the blank peaceful black
before and after
griefs, joys:  the definitions of when
to begin.

"Fireworks," someone says, "determines the time
of dusk."  Someone else argues,
"It's mosquitoes."  Our watching
makes the sky crackle.  In our small circle
of chairs, we slap and smile;
we listen.

Director of Creative Writing and Professor of English at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published nine collections of poetry, most recently Local News from Someplace Else (Wipf & Stock 2013) and a 2013 ebook of Perpendicular As I ( KindleKobo; 1994 Sandstone Book Award).