Fireworks were illegal in Michigan,
likely still are.
My father was an outlaw.
By the headlights of our old Ford, from
the docks where ships offloaded
their cargo onto waiting railroad cars
and left spillover near the tracks,
creating near perfect coal-shadows of the
my father filled the trunk and we
had heat in the furnace that winter night.
My father was an uncaught criminal.
In addition to stealing chunks of coal,
he smuggled fireworks over the bridge from Canada.
Not to sell or scare anyone but for his annual
Fourth of July Celebration at the beach.
Since fireworks were forbidden,
there was no municipal display to awe
the children and grown ups.
Only law breakers set off fireworks.
My father set them off on a big wooden scaffold he
had constructed on the sand.
Studded around the display were any number
of pin wheels, and rockets, and shooting stars,
and Roman candles, and those long strings of firecrackers.
As the dusk settled the neighbors gathered to watch
and say “Ohh and Ahh” and there was never any talk
about calling the cops.