Author: Michelle Lerner
Location: Flanders, New Jersey
Michelle Lerner is a legal aid lawyer and an MFA student at The New School. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Lips, Paterson Literary Review, Harvard Women's Law Journal, Sojourner, Crucible, Poesy, Sawbuck, Mannequin Envy, Up and Under,
the anthology The Poetry of Place: Writing about North Jersey,
and other publications.
In my hometown, fourth of July fireworks
are held on the lawn
of the VA hospital on the hill.
Teenage boys with limbs too long
swagger across the field
of freshly cut grass,
baggy pants hanging at their waists,
baseball caps shoved backwards on their heads.
They pretend not to look
at the girls sitting on blankets,
chewing gum and tying their hair back with rubber bands.
Five-year-olds and babies
crawl around on polka-dotted mats
eating Cheerios out of little plastic bags
as the sunlight fades to dusk
and cigarettes glow under the oaks.
A light wind,
and the first fuse hisses,
shoots a missile high into the air,
its high-pitched whine
growing fainter in the sky until
the loud kaboom burst of gold and orange
fills the night.
For the next thirty minutes
at the hospital
there is nothing but sky-shattering roar,
cherry bombs of light,
and the smell of gunpowder and singed paper.
I look up always at the windows
of the menís rooms
to see if they are watching,
wonder if they are allowed to look
at the explosions on the lawn,
if the nursesí aides do double shifts tonight
organize a movie on the other side of the compound,
wonder if they close the drapes.
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