1. Anthem

    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.

    By Susan Hahn.