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Buffalo Co-Lab advances an equitable economy and democratic community, collaboratively integrating scholarly and practical understanding to strengthen civic action.

Poem: To Nydia

Fireworks

By Finley Williams

To Nydia

Tonight, fireworks bloom over the far treetops; I come wandering here beneath night-flower skies.

Listen: Here at 40th Street, the air trembles with barbecue sizzle and parts itself for deep laughter, and doubledutch scrape on pavement, and old Christian prayer over picnics lit with fire and firefly.

The night is thick with it: coming Black like me and like us, so each shade is in turn a shade deeper, and I mistake skin for sky, and see light burst within brown eyes, on black arms that hang over lawn chairs, on black knees skinned on summer streets.

For a second, I forget deep wounds I can only feel if I press my fingers against them. I yield to the trembling heart and not so much to the mind. I want to bare my back, scars still gently weeping, to the high night-flowers.

 

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The night of July 4, 2020, I walked through my neighborhood on Chicago’s predominantly Black South Side. At the park across the street from my house, I saw Black children happily chasing each other through the dark grass. On Drexel Boulevard, I saw Black families arranging grills, lawn chairs, blankets, and speakers beneath the canopy of trees. I saw them light fuses on firecrackers they placed in the street, then run back to safety on the curb. I heard the poppopcrack and the laughter afterward.

I felt the hot, humid night heavy with camaraderie. And I loved America because I loved them — I loved that they were there, loud with rap and soul and laughter. I loved that they celebrated almost rebelliously, with a joy and clamor that said this country is mine too

The above is a prose poem that I scribbled about that night after reflecting a little upon the scene.