Benches spangled in shade,
billows of bunting in river breeze,
the esplanade blazing: blanket to blanket
and cooler to cooler, their quarter-million radios’
zones of sound overlapping, a quarter-million
have gathered early for the fireworks.
The two of us can’t help but feel part
of this immense party: everywhere
we are spread on quilts, masked in visors
and sunglasses. The collective future’s decided,
I guess, by these crowds—more of us
than I’ll ever see in one place, and all out
for a good time. We all stake claims:
sometimes even a makeshift tent or string fence
marks a chosen portion of view,
though everyone seems more interested
in the community of viewers. We wonder
if the scene might be much different in war
or disaster—these could be refugees
lugging their portable households—
but these are cheerful explosions, surprises
and mock danger everyone seems to like.
Glow-in-the-dark headbands begin to shine
as evening comes on, electric pink
or blue, as if the buyer could wear a thin stripe
of the neon that will later burst
over the water, a fire to keep.
The faces of the vendors
who carry hundreds in swaying bundles
glow in the light of their fifty-cent toys.
. . .
Back when we were both very young, Godine had the honor of publishing the first two poetry books of Mark Doty, who has since gone on to considerable and deserved fame and fortune, winning the National Book Award for Poetry in 2008, as well as honors from the National Book Critics Circle, the LA Times Book Prize, a Whiting Award, and (as the first American in its history) the T.S. Eliot Prize. This fall Godine will publish Paragon Park, a new collection with the complete texts of Doty's Turtle, Swan and Bethleham in Broad Daylight along with almost two dozen poems that have appeared in small magazines but have never before been collected.