In a tiny pocket of Ohio every Fourth of July
children still decorate bicycles in flag-like streamers
and parade around the neighborhood while parents follow
dutifully, the air heavy enough to make them collapse
into beach chairs by the lake with sufficient talk
and beer to take them through the day, with nothing
to do but watch little sun-screened bodies on diving boards,
on the sand, in paddle boats, hands full of chips.
Hawks in trees watch silently, while a blue
heron may, at any moment, take flight with a giant prehistoric
wingspan over the scene, geese honk, ducks laugh,
snapping turtles hide in the mud, the deer wait until dusk
to stare unmoving in the shadows, the tree frogs and bullfrogs
will start up a lonely chorus in the dark.
A campfire will arise from old ashes, chairs will assemble
to watch fireworks in this, their own little world.
As children disappear to beds, adults will encircle the bonfire.
The women may talk of their book club selection,
and of how their discussion will veer off topic so easily.
The men will talk of the Browns and the Tribe and keep throwing
mighty logs on the fire into the early morning hours of July 5th
because no designated drivers are needed.
The smell of burning wood will permeate
hair and clothes and open-windowed houses,
smoldering into the breaking day, calling them back
to a place where children are children and neighbors are friends
where America hasn't changed as much as we'd thought.