The Story Behind the Poem: Love is Walking in the Dark

It was the evening of Independence Day, the first summer in our new home. We had just moved from the ocean to the Ozarks, where everything from the landscape to the local culture was miles apart.

Like Christmas without a tree, for me, Independence Day is incomplete without fireworks. In the city where I lived for the past decade, fireworks were illegal, and it was not uncommon for people to flock to fireworks displays miles away in droves. One year, I was one such person. I dared to venture out and listen to the symphony play an overture as red, white and blue lit up the sky. The evening ended with wandering through a dark neighborhood searching for where the heck we parked the car, followed by a 90-minute gridlock. After that, we became Fourth of July grinches and stayed home.

Fast-forward to several years later, and for days before and after the Fourth of July, neighbors set off spectacular fireworks that flew high above our houses, bursts of triumphant colors declaring a true celebration. It filled me with the same excitement I had as a child when I first heard the giant pop and boom of sparkling ribbons in the sky. Joy. Freedom. Wonder.

We watched as our neighbors – skilled pros at the fireworks game – lined up a row of what looked like cardboard boxes and then rushed back to their lawn chairs a safe distance away, waiting for the next round of lights to fill the sky.

As the night wound down, I held my little one’s hand as we roamed the neighborhood, staring up at the sky in anticipation of just one more incandescent chrysanthemum to fill our eyes.

What’s that constellation, Mom? he asked as we craned our necks heavenward, tripping on the seams in the sidewalk. We had been studying star maps to learn the constellations in our swath of sky.

I’m not sure. What do you think it looks like?

That’s when an inkling of a poem was born, “Love is walking in the dark,” which was published today in Fathom Mag for their 50th issue, with the theme of Pursuit. Appreciation to Associate Poetry Editor Hannah Comerford (@HannahComer4d) and Editor in Chief Kelsey Hency (@kelseyhency) for recognizing my work and sharing it with you.

I’m also grateful to all my neighbors who shared the thrill of fireworks with everyone. Next year, let’s go Dutch, okay?

To read the poem in Fathom Mag, visit here.

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