NEWS FROM THE WAR, THE TREES CATCH FIRE
The annual fireworks display’s gone wrong.
Rockets launched in seeming safety from a barge
send red and blue florets and golden pinwheels
into neighbor’s trees, where sparklers fall like hot rain
trimming the elms with gray wreaths and blackened fruit,
the leaves aflame before their funerals come
a few months more. The cinders cartwheel into a field
on the banks of the Rhode, transforming a Maryland river
into the Rhône with patches of red, Dutch green and mauve.
The barrage goes on all night. I can almost touch the colors streaking
the portlights of our boat. We turn off the latest news on the radio
so as not to offend other sailors, while hoping the pasture grass
won’t light from a stray spark or misdirected rocket.
We sit disconnected, so independent in our little boats
we no longer fear the glow, grateful that nothing catches.
When the darkness returns, the noise of laughing voices spoils
across the water, mixes with shouts and horns
blaring at holiday’s end. The Fourth, a close call, then silence.
by Michael Salcman
MICHAEL SALCMAN, poet, physician and art historian, was chair of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland. Recent poems appear in Alaska Quarterly Review, Hopkins Review, The Hudson Review, New Letters, Ontario Review, and Rhino. Poetry books include The Clock Made of Confetti, nominated for The Poet's Prize, and The Enemy of Good Is Better (Orchises, 2011); Poetry in Medicine, his anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors and diseases has just been published (Persea Books, 2015).
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