1966— my father sets a field on fire with his friend
or his friend’s friend; with matches or a gun or cheap fireworks

sparking a thin corrosion, a sputtering
spine in the sky. The story morphs each time.

This was back in the day when trouble was escorted,
not by handcuffs or a scruffy face

pressing pavement, but by cops who talked to parents
who told their sons you’re lucky you didn’t get killed.

He told me I was a hound of a child, stick of dynamite
swaddling his foot. That I loved to scream—

not in the desperate pitch, but to hear the hidden edges
of my voice; to light them all aflame. Each time

he swore he heard the boom of a gun, the screech
of a match. The whip of a dreamland glowing.


Julia Watson