Fireworks, Harborfest by Luisa A. Igloria

So painful-sweet, all waiting
and anticipation.

The crowds,
as eager a multitude as the pilgrims
come to venerate the Buddha’s
sacred ankle, carried in procession
across a lake in your island home.

A couple has just pushed their way
to where we stand at the edge
of the docks, the woman’s hair
like straw gathered into a wild
bouquet; his hands, like lightning,
streaking down her sides.

Theirs is another kind
of combustion, perhaps more ripe
because it opens in plain sight,
more without reserve
or circumspection.

What they do, not holding back
their ardor, electrifies the space
around them. No one
wants to look at them
directly, to come
too close.

Only when the fireworks burst
above our heads
can we forgive
them their pleasure.

I think of a different
story, the boy Gautama deep
in meditation, the unseen cobra
slithering up to spread its deadly cowl,
shielding him from the rain.

Against the dark roof of sky, a thousand flares
fracture into cathedrals of light: mercury
and oxides, silvered pearl and purple,
flowering with the boom
of worlds becoming—

The way a gong sounds in a temple
far away, carrying across water
to echo in each hollow reed;
the bones in the bronze bell
of the body breathless,
clapping as one, before falling
back into familiar silence.

From: Igloria, Luisa A., “Fireworks, Harborfest,” in Poetry, January 2001, pp. 248-249.

Date: 2001

By: Luisa A. Igloria (1961- )

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