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Fourth of July, Portland

Would they have scoffed,
those first patriots,
at our reminiscing with pyrotechnics,
the freedom of our country?
Across the nation tonight,
countless blankets spread over cool grass,
heads raise under showers of colored fire
as ash falls like snow.

From the twenty-ninth floor of this high-rise
I can see every flame-burst
spanning the wide girth of the city,
little spindles of activity,
diminishing.

Here in the darkness
the din is muffled by the pane.
I press my back against the chair,
imagine the sweat running between
the shoulders of those
who are lighting the biggest display.
I can picture them,
shouting orders across
the barge that is only a
smudge on the river below.

I murmer appreciatively at the lights,
I who have never feared death’s
cold eye gleaming on the battlefield.

Driving home, I am not reminded of the absence
of one who held by my side,
nor do I shudder at the pungent smell of gunpowder,
but notice how it blankets the city as night descends,
muffling the sounds of amnesic celebration.

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