In a Lawn Chair on the Fourth of July

Perception of fireworks. Written 7.4.06.

cat streams from my lips, my tailbone, the top of my head; feeling the body change, feeling the ears lift, and the long tail curve around, stretching through the hole in the seat, eyes lifting to see it.

what is that?

beads of colored light falling, gold pouring in a long rivulet across the sky, narrowly missing the tops of the lights that illuminate the football field. crash and the ground vibrates underneath like a shaken kitten, scared and in ecstasy. something new, something new.

bombs of whiteness spin in arcs, so bright that my eyes twitch shut, and they burst through me. All senses intent on it, the smell of bug spray (alcoholic, like sharp dust) in my snout, the taste of my hot tongue and warm teeth, my—what are they, hind paws, feet, feet-paws?—swinging against the grass as I pull myself erect to stare upwards at the fire. children/cubs lean against my chair. I reach for one with a paw, annoyed, but draw back as another flame trails listlessly upwards, bronze and shimmering, making little shiver-shiver sounds and it sparkles

it reminds me of breathing when you've got something in your throat and it rasps and you snarl but you still can't speak clearly

mosquitoes thrum at the back of my neck and around my ears, but they bite softly tonight, they bite like they're scared of this cat in the lawn chair, who leans backward and then (jerk!) forward, and then slaps at the sky, again, like he thinks he can catch one of those stars? not likely. an intake of breath and the beginning of a buggywarmsummernight and the leopard with paws raised on the off-chance a firework might fall to earth, tail flicking, flame flickering, thinking maybe I'm defying death if there're too close, thinking, ah hell, once a year I can afford to take that kind of risk

between stars and survival I'll take the stars

go back