Editor’s Note: Kierstin Bridger is the 2011 winner of Telluride Arts’ Mark Fischer Poetry Prize and a regular contributor to Telluride Inside… and Out. Possibly the edgiest member of our family of writers/poets, including Word Woman Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer and “Feelosophy” major David Feela, her Fourth of July contribution is a case in point. There’s fireworks imbedded in her every image.

July 2012

Cherry tomato sugar bombs shatter her
dry lips and tongue. Carmine moon hangs
over a simmering canyon, a burnt
and blackened sky. The heart
of watermelon silent in the cool stream
still 200 miles away.
These are not the same reds.

The noise from the A/C, the color smoke used to be
exhaled from a bedroom window.
The Ivory bar she’ll use to rinse the soot away,
the same carved letters that caught lipstick stains,
blood smudge, and navy eyeliner from her pale skin.
These are not the same white knuckles
on the wheel escaping the heat, the wild sparks,
photos of elopement in the backseat, still warm to the touch.

She’ll soon see the blue spruce guarding her childhood plot,
delphinium safe from singe, columbines waving her in,
the star field of blueberries on her mother’s Cool Whip dessert
the Tiffany box walls, the cobalt bottles on the sill, so much unchanged;
There will be light from television fireworks, then a comedy on HBO;
humor that will still make her cheeks flush with her father in the room.

This is not the same red white and blue,
this is not the same year of independence
she’d fought for all her life. She’ll say
it’s not a flag of surrender, more like a battle
hymn of home


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