172. Fourth of July, Day

Light welled
Over the horizon. Daybreak,
Bleached in blue.
On the porch,
James sat crosslegged,
Barker at his side: two
Overalls, four
Ankles bare and brown.
James thought: sun moves,
But we never see.
Like the black hand
On the clock at school.
In the distance,
Fenceposts emerged
Clear. “Dad, can’t we
Head for town?”

“Minute more!”–
From above, Tom’s
Voice. James: “Barker,
Look–he’s clumb our
Windmill!”
Barker missed James’
Lips, but followed
His friend’s eyes:
High above pale
Skyline, Thomas stood.
On the platform
He seized windmill
Vanes, to turn by
Hand–tugged, yanking,
Heaving gasps.
Like a ‘cropper,
Tom thought with
Disgust. This useless
Windmill! No wind
This whole day. No
Rain, two months.
We need water.
Pump you, damn it!
Just a little
Bit. Those kids could
Wait.

James tossed pebbles:
Thomas was so
Slow! And worse, so
Cranky since last
Night Bud Hines came by,
Rare event. Bank errand.
Matthew, James and
Barker’d played outside,
Shoving, peevish
Till the Fourth should come.
Matthew had pulled
Out a fat Torpedo, round
And big. Threw it at
The ground right next to
Barker. Bang! But Barker
Hardly blinked an eye.
To his ears,
The loudest sound came
Dim. “God! Is he
Dumb!” Matt scowled, repulsed.

But that bang had
Opened up James’
Eyes. At once, in
Shock he saw:
All he’d bought,
The ‘crackers, Baby Giant–
None were fun for
Barker, not a tad!
All for hearing–
Not a thing to
See. That was why
Barker’d acted
Sullen at the truck. Now
James caught on.
Should have bought some
Sparklers–least one box!

James frowned. Thought I
Bought them for us
Both. But
I did not:
Thinking I’m so
Smart. Wrong! What I
Should have done….
On James’ face emerged
The far-off squinting
Look his parents
Wore, the idea-look,
When they solved some
Problem on the farm: after
Long discussion,
Canny look that
Settled the affair.

As the sun rose,
Sprawled out on
The porch, James sat there
Next to Barker.
James made up his
Mind. Better
Way: next time
Barker must spend
Thomas’ coin
Himself. James
Brooded: yes, ten
Cents. Yes, his own
Dime, he’ll have–I’ll
Give.

James paused. Ten whole
Cents. Or maybe
Five.

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