Air After Fireworks

Timothy Donnelly

A squirrel, startled, sets out across the street in successive little leaps
     like the scalloped edging in front-yard gardens used to divide
flowerbeds from the lawn, or like the rim of a glass pie plate
    and then of the pie itself, blueberry, its top crust like a clock face

browning in the oven. Likewise, the squirrel’s leaping pattern
     recalls the seconds, minutes, and the hours, which have thus far
proved interminable. Measurements like these, which organize
     one’s experience of time and space—including inches, Tuesdays,

summers, decibels and milligrams—differ from pure mathematics,
     which expresses itself through the physical but exists
prior to expression and so independent of it. This differs, too, from how
     my thoughts on squirrels, fireworks, sicknesses and pie exist—

that is, with a haze-like pliancy that almost feels like liberty
     from the spatiotemporal, but without objects to refer to, with no
initial gasp at vibrant suddenness or past captivation by aromas
     arrowing in my direction in a diagram of the kitchen, all my concepts

disappear, and I’m walking home from the drugstore not knowing
     what’s happening, what anything is anymore, or where my person
begins, ends, and why it has to be absorbed like a berry into a pie,
     or a squirrel into thoughts of squirrels, night into this fistful of thistle.