Monday, July 7, 2008

Burnin' Down the House

Last year I spent the 4th in a Wal Mart parking lot watching fireworks with the rest of Herkimer NY, but also watching my father wrestle with Post Traumatic Stress disorder against a back drop of flashing lights, bomb sounds, and a brightly lit sign on the side of the store that read, in blood red script, ALWAYS. His face was impassive, a sure sign of struggle.

So you’d think that fireworks and warfare (and retail as well) would be permanently linked in my mind, but not so. This year each candy colored missile found me jumping, shouting, slugging beer; each bang and blast turned me to a happy, violent child, with no thought beyond the burning color and sound. If any memories slipped into this quick flaring present, they were of my father arriving home in his cop uniform with a load of confiscated fireworks, smiling and launching bottle rockets from the gravel driveway.

Today however, after a good look through the headlines, the only memory of the celebration that keeps its quick flaring innocence intact, is a scene from the park, long after the big fireworks had finished. Through the heavy trees and gunpowder haze, kids twirled sparklers in the distance, calling to mind an illustrated story of willow-the wisps, a half remembered, but still ominous sermon on Ezekial’s wheels and the beauty of Star Wars’ lazers when I was 11. Shadowy bodies moved around the spinning lights. A Roman candle launched with a whistle and struck the side of an immobile train.