July 4, 1967, Somerset, New Jersey
Picnics on our farm were huge. All of our relatives came, all of our family's friends. The younger cousins got the job of shucking corn, bushels of it. We loved it. Mom let us roll the hot sweet ears right on a stick of butter, until it melted away. She made a tall, red-white-and-blue frosted cake with her wedding pans, each layer's edge decorated with toothpick flags. Everybody brought grills and coolers. Uncle Jim brought soda to ice in galvanized tubs. Cases of it. Dad bought a keg of beer. The scent of barbequed chicken, hotdogs, and hamburgers filled the air. All day, baseball games went on in the back field. Horseshoes clinked in the backyard. Shuttlecocks flew over the net on the front lawn. Dad started up the old tractor and gave hayrides along the brook in the meadow. We pushed each other in to cool off. Later we roasted marshmallows and spit watermelon seeds as far as we could. The fireflies came out and then the fireworks. Bottle rockets and cherry bombs burst into the night. It was magic and I wanted it to last forever.
sparklers trace patterns
in the darkness
The haiku was first published in Modern Haiku, vol.42.2, summer 2011).