American Life in Poetry: In the Fourth of July Parade

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Ted Kooser. Photo credit: UNL Publications and Photography.

I was once on Deer Isle, Maine, on the Fourth of July, and attended their own town parade.

Deer Isle isn’t big enough to mount a very long parade, so they ran it past us twice, first down to the water, and then back up. And we applauded as much with our second viewing as we did with the first.

July 4th parades are a wonderful institution. And here’s a parade for you, by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, who lives in southwest Colorado.

Her newest book, “Hush,” has just been published by Middle Creek Press.

In the Fourth of July Parade

Right down the middle of main street
the woman with the long red braids
and fairy wings strapped to her back
rode a unicycle more than two times
taller than she was—rode it with balance
and grace, her arms stretched out,
as if swimming through gravity,
as if embracing space—her smile an invitation
to join in her bliss. How simple it is, really,
to make of ourselves a gate that swings open
to the joy that is. How simple, like tossing
candy in a parade, to share the key to the gate.

American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2019 by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, “In the Fourth of July Parade,” (2019). Poem reprinted by permission of Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. Introduction copyright @2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.