Fireworks blush the dark. Pink sparks
rain through the forest. My neighbor
ends his barbecue with a bang.
He doesn’t know his horses
have kicked out the stable doors
and rambled down the road to find
a quiet pasture far from the roar
of drunken middle-aged men
and sizzle of overwrought children.
He doesn’t know I’ve spotted them
ramping past my driveway, manes
fluttering and hooves so heavy
they dent the freshly paved road.
I should cross the woods to tell him,
but the gnash of fireworks overhead
competes with ordinary starlight
and blinds me to the path. The smoke,
a cloud of dreamy rouge, sprawls
through the treetops, dissipates
in the resumption of midnight.
The barbecue breaks up. Men too thick
to drive propel their pickups
down the road after their wives
have begged vainly for the keys.
I hope they don’t hit the horses
trembling on the fern-lit shoulder.
I hope that bulky innocence
finds its way back to the stable
where gelding and mare reside
usually without fussing or neighing
or otherwise protesting their lot.
Fireworks spent, the dark seems darker.
The neighbor hosing the coals
of his huge barbecue pit looks
somber as Hades. I’d tell him
his horses are loose, but he’d shrug,
douse his fire, and let the nature
he despises take its course.
William Doreski’s most recent collection of poetry is City of Palms (2012). His work has appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Harvard Review, and Natural Bridge. He lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire and teaches writing and literature at Keene State College.