Plum

by Robert Voss

On July 4th
We seem to celebrate
Less and less
Our independence
And more and more
Who we are today,
More and more
What we have become
From 226 years of history,
Celebrating and making peace
With our past.
This is good and necessary
As we fractious children
Need a day of togetherness
To forget the fuss and fight.
Just one day.

I have been gone too long,
Abroad in the land.
My apartment complex
Has a pool,
And I walk there
With a plum in hand
From my brother’s tree.
At the pool
A complex of kids
Of every type and color
Play king of the hill
On a rubber raft of
The American flag.
This is what I think about
This 4th of July.
We are now every nation.
It wasn’t that way
When I was young. 15
It is better now.

I sit in the shade
And bite the plum.
Instantly I am startled,
All sound stops.
I close my eyes,
And the taste of plum
Is full and round,
A perfect sweetness,
Like a madeleine
From the country
Across the sea
That gave us
The Statue of Liberty.
The taste accelerates me backward
To my childhood
And another day
By another pool
On another 4th.

The old music
Sketches across my mind,
Kate Smith and Sousa
And, of course,
Tchaikovsky.
Calliope visions tumble around –
My friends, our families
The heat of the day
The cool of the pool
The games, the dance
Losing at checkers
Winning at chess,
Water balloons
And greased watermelons,
Playing with fire
At the end of the day,
Making out
With stick figure girls
Who would become the queens
Of my desire,
The hellions
Of my nightmares,
And the last time
I bit a plum
That tasted this damn good.

I open my eyes,
And the sound returns.
They say,
You can never go home.
I say,
I can’t disagree more.
In your heart
And in your mind,
You never really leave.