Winter 2005 • Vol. XXVII No. 1 PoetryJanuary 1, 2005 |

Fifth of July

Hot sun again. Coda to last night's flares that rose in giant O's and fell in tears, a lowd-own blue-note soprano sax blares "O beautiful," razz for the morning after. Flags snap in pride but pride flags in the fire of headline deaths, and high convictions lie like fizzled-out red crackers on the shore, now litter for the pick-up volunteers. Up headland, the tide licks ochre stones as though to coax their spirit, one by one, in shallows, to lift up in the clean vapor still found in road-sign names of English settlers, and in print of Moses, my great-uncle who grins at me now, strutting army medals of World War I, prized early as the first born here to foreign parents on a past Fourth of July. O season of sky flashes, give me instead dim lights of fireflies, gleaming sea plankton, stars, and bayberry candles of uncertainty, the rosebush on sand burning but uncharred. Limits. An old shepherd ambling across the shore and sniffing driftwood.

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Grace Schulman’s seventh collection of poems, Without a Claim, was published in September 2013 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Mariner Booka). She is Distinguished Professor, Baruch College, CUNY.

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