July 4, 2011
Ten headstones back, a family sprawls on blankets:
toddler sobs, sibling ahs, parents, stiff and a little chilly,
telling each other they're glad they've come,
feeling for what they've lost in the dark, wondering
what the kids – they're small – will remember when they're grown,
beauty or terror or nothing at all. Explosions
on the horizon. Fireflies and stars. The dead
have the night off. Blue, red and white
streak the cheeks of a night
bursting with manifest destinies, yours and mine,
rounded shoulder-rows of stone,
Rockets whistle past the graves like bored nineteenth-century boys.
Are the explosions speeding up?
Is this the grand finale?
Joy Ladin, Gottesman Professor of English at Yeshiva University, has published six books of poetry, including Forward Fives award winner Coming to Life and Lambda Literary Award finalist Transmigration; her seventh collection, Impersonation, is due out in 2015. Her memoir of gender transition, Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders, was a 2012 National Jewish Book Award finalist,and she has also published a study of American poetry, Soldering the Abyss: Emily Dickinson and Modern American Poetry. Her work has appeared in many periodicals, including American Poetry Review, Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Parnassus: Poetry in Review, Southwest Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and North American Review, and has been recognized with a Fulbright Scholarship.