Air Show: Chicago
4th Of July

by Thelma T. Reyna

sun’s skinny fingers puncture gray clouds,
jets slice sky in thunder,
scream past treetops, rattle bones.

three blocks away, on my back porch,
i ladle soil in mother’s old jardinière,
mound loam ‘round roots of juniper seedlings.

crowds love this, my neighbor says,
holding his daughter’s small-flag hand,
hurrying past my porch for a primo spot.

i imagine uptilted heads by lake michigan,
children perched on father shoulders.
mouths agape with gasp and awe.

the watchers’ trembles aren’t for fear
on chicago grass, blankets, picnic treats spread lush.
they know this is just a show.

but these same jets scream over trees
on the other side, over desert towns,
over blasted roofs, over bodies crushed by stone.

these midnight jets boom across oceans,
rain fire on villages, mountains, skyscrapers like ours,
mosques flattened to dust.

their crying children hold no flags.
their elders run from doorways, hunched in fear.
these jets’ booms explode their chests.

i sweep cuttings from my porch,
set freshly potted plants on rattan tables by my door,
drink iced tea in my padded chair.

jets roar for just an hour more,
but i know their thunder overseas will never cease.
for this—for this—i tremble.

Originally published in a prior version, titled “Air Show Chicago: August 2017,”
in the author’s book, Reading Tea Leaves After Trump” (Golden Foothills Press, 2018).

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