By Susan Hahn

After the Fourth of July

On this night of the mid-
summer festival of fire,
where liquid explosives
look like the arch and ache
of the willow tree

so near your grave, on this
night of the awaiting mid-
wife who lulled you in-
to this world, the light
all violet because the Earth and stars
inclined toward each other,
she also sleeps, she who was
your first deliverer, guiding you out

of your mother—her bluing
skin no small sign of the future
cyanosis of her spirit for no
small journey was it to this
country to bring you to birth
in this torch

song heat and an anthem of a free
nation’s conception of combustions:
rosins, petroleum, tallow, arsenic
and worse, as you, too, fell from the sky

of her body with me
a microscopic egg inside—
half the composition
that made up my own
toss and tumble to this crash
of ground I sit over and bless
while you lie under, under
the willow, under this world
that no midwife
nor wavelength can under-
standably reach. So I stand

in this over-
determined fire forced out
like bullets upon a target—
the pulled trigger releasing
the hammer that strikes
the impacted mixture—
hailstorm and hymn

of memories. And the outstretched womb
involutes and the abdominal wall tightens
and inside all abandoned encasements
the night over the day darkens.

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