Fireworks: Albuquerque

By Kate Fetherston

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Summer evenings on our street, the dads nursed
warm cans of Hamm’s, exchanging a syllable now

and then, casually supervising us kids setting off cherry
bombs or Stinky Snakes, while the moms appeared in lit

doorways as they swiped bugs with a wet dishtowel,
a baby slung on a shoulder, and yelled or

begged for some one of us to stop
hitting our brothers or to let our sisters play, then disappeared

behind kitchen curtains into a foreign
country. We kids thought we knew

everything worth knowing: that the dads spent
midnights banging things around in the garage, or

leaning against a Chevy half-ton on blocks in the front yard,
smoking and killing time until the moms put us to bed

or until moonrise enticed them to laugh and curl
into the dads’ arms long after we were supposed

to be asleep. Those warm lingering dusks the dads lounged
on sidewalks like lions staking out their savannah, eyes

on us but not on us. We ran into the street trailing
sparklers, whooshing our arms like Ferris wheels

in the same motion our dads’ fists
made circles that crushed hissing

empties. When Mr. H let slip between swigs,
that Mrs. H was so clumsy she

broke her arm falling through the living room
window, the other dads, suddenly quiet, squinted

at stars popping out and spat into the gutter. Conjured
from nowhere and all business, the moms, with one

swift stroke of Bisquick-dusted arms, whisked
us eavesdroppers back into the street where

we twirled into the coming night, our sparklers shooting
fire we thought would save us. We flew

and flew and flopped on the still
warm asphalt, until a dust devil of moths beat

against porchlights flickering
on, one by one. Those fluttering

deaths meant nothing to us.

Kate Fetherston’s second book of poems, This Far from Perfect, was published in 2021 by Longleaf Press. She’s the author of Until Nothing More Can Break, Antrim House, 2012. Kate co-edited Open Book, an anthology of craft essays, and Manthology, poems on the male experience. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including Nimrod, North American Review, and Hunger Mountain. Kate’s received numerous Pushcart nominations, Vermont Artist Fund grants, and residencies at Vermont Studio Center.

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