W. D. Ehrhart  

What Better Way to Begin

    You can just keep your rockets' red glare.
And as for the bombs bursting in air,
with all that noise and fire and smoke
there has to be plenty of jagged steel
looking for someone to hit.
Ask Gaffney with his shattered knee.
Ask Ski with a hole behind his ear
the size of a fist.
So I’m not too keen on fireworks.
Call it ghosts from the past.

But it’s Millennium Eve
and my daughter wants to see the biggest
fireworks show the City of Philadelphia
has ever put on—or ever will—
in my lifetime or hers.
So off we go to join the crowd
on the banks of the Delaware River.

When midnight arrives, the crowd explodes
as the barges moored in the river
open fire in a steadily rising rumble
of thumps and sparks like four-deuce mortars.
But before the first bomb bursts in air,
Leela silently takes my hand
and holds it tight through the rockets’ red glare
till the last bomb’s blunt concussion
fades away as if it never were.
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    Copyright © 2010 by W. D. Ehrhart
The Bodies Beneath the Table, Adastra Press, 2010
This poem currently appears in Thank You For Your Service: Collected Poems, McFarland & Company, 2019
Copyright © 2011 - W. D. Ehrhart - homepage
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