Fireworks, Greensboro, NC

by Fritz Ward

We are still lovers leaning
         so deeply into one another
                the slightest shift translates

into fall. We lie on the blue threads
        your grandmother knotted into a blanket.
                 Above, the pyrotechnics bloom with the precision

of peonies and double-pistilled chrysanthemums.
        Everything tonight will rise up
                and die between us.

The town children all wear the same mask
        laced with a smile for the crack
                and flash fracturing the sky,

a field of heartbeats dissolving
        into smoke. Ash drifts down like snow
                caught in a negative. I trace an ember’s

        on a blade of grass at the blanket’s edge.
                Look. Small fires consume our shadows.

Ask me why my hands are seared
        with sweat. So—when the finale
                spreads its cinders across the sky—

I can answer by leaning away, reaching
        for that blade of grass smothered with ash,
                the one I fold so gently into your pocket
you never knew I was there.

Fritz Ward completed his MFA at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, where he served as poetry editor for the Greensboro Review. He currently coordinates special events for United Way in Sarasota, Florida. His poems have appeared in the Southern Poetry Review, Wisconsin Review, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Clackamas Review, and other journals. His poem “Evergreen Mobile Home Park” was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize.