I have been a'visiting family in Mobile, Alabama, celebrating the Fourth of July. Why the Fourth of July? Well, here on earth (Substantiopetrapopulus to you, I believe) and in these United States of America we commemorate our independence as a nation on the day in which our written declaration of such was signed by our whitest and brightest. Typically events surrounding the occasion involve grilled meats and fireworks--variations are acceptable though rare. Even the unpatriotic, snide, and cynical generally take part in the festivities, unwilling as they usually are to pass up a party to prove a point.
(Ether, I confess to being all of those things at odd and slightly shameful times, but for the most part I try to curb my lack of enthusiasm for the sake of the gathering. Besides, at the end of the day, after the guilt of trespass, after the sorrow of spoils, after the tail-chasing polemics, I am glad to be an American--plenty happy, plenty free, and plenty fortunate.)
But I was saying . . . Mobile . . . family . . . my absence from Philosterous-Nonesucherol . . . well, here is a poem in progress to help you get a feel . . .
And At the Mirror Each Time
Thia Grace made out like a bandit
Selling quarter lemonade to uncles
With only paper bills. Jesse lit three-
Foot rods from the sputtering
Citronella candle and twirled
In a spangle of sparks. We all swatted
Gnats and suffered the bough-sieved
Rain to watch the amateur display
Of rockets and mortars, to comment
On how the smoke should keep
The mosquitoes at bay.
But earlier, before the burgers
And gumbo, while kids splatted
Water-balloons and pranced in the blow-
Up princess pool, Annalyn and I—
My newest niece, her wretched uncle—
Trolled the house on doldrums.
And at the mirror each time, we paused
To gurgle and grin—our reflections
So grotesque and magnificent, so full
Of promise and repulsion.
And this thought . . .
What should I tell her now? Now that Earth
Is as good as flat? Now in the moments
Before she naps? Nothing.
Nothing except this is freedom. Nothing
Except we have done a great thing,
You and I, tight-roping the gamut,
You poised, me palled, we gnarled
In this two-hearted body.
Or just nothing. Just sway, whistle
Through teeth a tinny lullaby.
Swallow the words and hum.
Guard against explosions.
Gurgle and grin.