funny, how bright lights in the sky make us look up, make us crane our necks and wonder. funny how, once a year, we flock, whole heaping crowds of us, to the edge of where the lights are coming. we haul wagons and blankets and lots of little children. we come in wheelchairs, with walkers, on crutches. we cannot stand to miss the show.
we set up shop, as if we own a piece of the planet there. the real estate is ours, until the show sizzles to its final smoky end.
and while we’re waiting, everyone is antsy. checking watches, scanning sky. looking for a far-off pop, the first explosion in the sky.
and then, at last, when night has fully fallen, when sky is draped in black, the curtain rises.
announced in pop-pop-pop. and then the colors, poured across the sky. the exploding has begun.
it was at about that moment, after aw-ing one or two last night, that my little one climbed in my lap, said in my ear, “don’t you wish you could be a fireworks?”
without waiting for an answer, his little shoulders lifted, felt as if they might take off. “i do,” he sighed.
and then, just minutes later, after a chemical chrysanthemum had blossomed in the sky, had showered petals made of light over all the crowd–the endless squares of blanket, upturned faces, open ooh-ing mouths and chrysanthemum-painted eyes–he added this: “i’d be a purple one.”
not long after, the pit-a-pat of rain came. and so the show was hurried. it ended, as it always, always does, with a bang, a bang that makes you plug your ears. only, by then, everyone was up and scrambling, dashing, before the final flicker fell, softly, from the sky.
walking home, the big boy who i love, the one who never wished to be a fireworks, far as i know, though, in his own way, wouldn’t mind lighting up the sky, offered the thinking that is his own pyrotechnic explosion, as he sparks his fuse and practices watching big ideas, in many colors, stretch across the whole horizon.
he told me he was thinking of writing an essay called “empty sky.” said he found it odd that we, as a nation, say we’re celebrating freedom, then proceed to all dress up, in lockstep, in the same three colors, eat “pseudo-patriotic foods,” and then, “rather than exercising our freedom, we go to watch destruction.”
what’s left, when all is ended, he mused, when all our policies have set us off in wrong directions, is empty sky.
as the rain kept up its rat-a-tat on our heads, our shoulders, our legs, our shoes, we kept walking, my boy and i.
he unspooled, in pure eloquence, his thoughts that already i have mucked up, just above. by the time we got home he promised me he would write it down. told me he’d take a picture of the pitch black sky to illustrate his essay.
i marveled, as i hung up the soggy blanket, at the blessing that is mine on the day america takes a seat to watch the sky show.
it leaves me nearly gasping, the fact that, at once, i could have one who climbs on laps and wishes he too could dazzle in exploding colors, free-fall from the heavens, take a ride on sky crescendo, while my other is taking in the fireworks and stitching deep political threads into what’s stretched across the dark black canvas.
then i heard the crash, boom, bang. i looked up to where the lights had been. i saw more lights. these from God. or Mother Nature. or whoever is the one who takes cold wind and hot, and bangs them both together like a cymbal in the sky, complete with jagged bolts of light.
i stared, i gasped again. took in the second act of sky show for the night. it gave me goosebumps, the good kind. i watched awhile, all alone. no blankets, ohhs or ahhs.
just a silent kind of awe that this night of sky lights, acts one and two, had sparked so much wonder in so very many colors.
what do you think when you watch the sky ignite? would you like to be a fireworks? or do you see explosions and think deep and stirring thought about how you’d like the world to be? happy fourth.