after the fireworks stand closed for the summer
it was only a matter of days before we broke into the camper
in which my uncle had stashed the leftover boxes
of black cats, jumping jacks, conical fountains, charcoal snakes
and an array of small tanks, rockets, and—our favorite—the “laying” hens
which shot sparkling, screechy eggs from their backsides just before
their fool heads exploded.

having stolen too many class d explosives at once—fearful now
that we would be caught–it was decided that everything should be exploded
at once, and the remains buried in the pasture behind the barn, long before
all the adults came home from work and, once again, we were forced
to return to our chores and screamy lectures, the endless eggshell-walking we inevitably did
around anyone over the age of thirteen

stuffed into a gallon milk jug, doused
with gasoline siphoned from the push mower, the now five-pound bomb
of frankensteined firework was placed in the middle of the street
in front of the house, becoming like so many in the pantheon
of our ill-thought adolescent plans:
the unpredictably snapping zipline, rendered from baling wire and a rusty wheel
or the makeshift trapeze which snagged the neighbor girl’s arm as she swang
snapping it like a handful of dry spaghetti noodles
before she flew threw the air of our backyard
with all the grace of a wingless baby bird

no one was prepared for the combustion
that several pounds of low-grade fireworks swimming in gasoline
might actually produce—something vaguely vesuvius-like, smoldering and convulsively shooting
in every direction at once, setting fire to the dry grass in a nearby ditch
before hurling a few errant rockets skyward
to explode over my aunt theresa’s house

at night it might have been beautiful—the kind of fleeting
contained violence of light and heat
that would have kept us running back, over and over
to light the fuse
but in the treacly light of a babysat weekday afternoon—in a summer when our biggest worry
was boredom, it might as well have been a puff of dust
or an airborne collision of dirt clods, some curls
of chalky colored smoke and invisible cinder-cracklings to signal it’s departure from the earth,
the unexpected overhead explosion
like a smudge against the absolute blank nothingness
of an otherwise empty sky

-T Cole Rachel