So. Bonfire night and off to the firework display at the Blue Flames (a well-known local display) to celebrate the thwarting of the terrorist plot to blow up parliament. Lots of people, chips and beer. Twenty minutes after time (a well-known feature of the display) the floodlights dim and the first fireworks head up into the sky.
They have a firework canon or something that sends an arc of explosions into the dark. But my favourites are the silver-gold twists that corkscrew boldly from the earth, each one trying to climb higher, trying to escape. And each one fading and failing. Oh, my brave boys! The whole of art and history is there.
Some twenty years ago I wrote a poem about fireworks, after watching from a bedroom window with one of my children. It is not the best poem ever (I suppose that goes for all except one poem), in this case the front end is clunky), but it expresses that same futile beauty I sensed again tonight.
To you, these are bangs, terrifying and loud.
You want the window shut;
a glass shield to let you watch the flames.
I want the window open, to allow the fullness
of sight, sound and smell.
These are more than fireworks.
Blinking reminders of temporality,
Sweet exclamations of our mortal course.
Green-gold attendants of darkness
Which tell, when read correctly,
That everything will pass away.
Joy flames briefly
Dying down to darkness.
All will pass: spark, fire, stone.