Independence Day came and went;
we gathered for dinner at my mother's, six of us,
including my sister who is helpful.

My husband is happy there, talking
with my mother and my sister, almost
as if I don't exist
.

As darkness fell, a few local firecrackers
startled us as we drank tea from Tanzania, waiting
to watch A Capitol Fourth on channel 13.

My husband tells a story to my mother
about something he thinks he did,
his level of agitation growing, angry
at someone who isn't there
.

My mother listens and says something
which calms him,
then he repeats the same story, laughing.

Every time a firecracker goes off,
he jumps up to check the front and back yard.
"It is only fireflies and mosquitoes", he announces.

As if all is well and we are safe.

The show began and I felt nothing until
Neil Diamond started singing.
With a lump in my throat, I turned and
almost touched his thin arm, so close, yet so far;
he was sleeping, in an armchair.

As if all is well and we are safe.

Later, at home I watch the Macy's fireworks
and dance alone to a country version of
God Bless America, then Sinatra singing
New York, New York.

And I cry alone not for light and transient causes,
but for freedom, history, his old blue eyes
hidden behind smudged new eyeglasses,
the inevitability of life marching on.

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