The country club near my house has fireworks every year, usually the day before July 4th. An impressive, professional show. We can see them from our deck.
There’s something that always gets to me about this show, though. What it sounds like.
The colored lights of fireworks are pretty, they always have been and always will be. But the thing about the way this show sounds is that it’s the closest thing to some weird, I dunno… memories? Psychic foo? I am not sure I even have a word for how and why I know the stuff I do about it. My grandfather? My spirit guides from Germany? I have no idea.
Where I live is very hilly. The area was once all referred to by the Native American name Matenicock, which means “very hilly place”. It also looks a hell of a lot like where I was stationed in Germany.
Most fireworks shows on Long Island are shot off over either the ocean or LI Sound, so the water absorbs the noise. This one echoes off the hilly land. The echoes are what freak me out.
I realize from the pretty colors that what I’m hearing is not what I’m seeing, but… there’s a part of me that hears it and REMEMBERS… something else. I find myself remembering the foxhole that I tripped and fell into behind my house in Kaiserslautern, cutting my hand on barbed wire that had been wrapped around a sapling (now a tree) 50 years before. The tree had grown AROUND the barbed wire. They were now forever one thing.
I took this picture of it while standing in what had been the foxhole. It is placed strategically at the corner of a hill above a road that leads to Der Kammgarn, a former spinning factory that was converted to produce munitions during WWII, and was later converted to a concert hall.
I find myself just KNOWING that the soft thumps of the rockets launching, not the explosions themselves, are what you need to listen for and take cover from, because by the time you hear the big boom and you’re not behind something, it’s all over. I never worked around artillery in my life. My grandfather never told me this when he was alive. I never received training for this aspect of warfare. How the fuck do I know this?
The hills where I live echo and ring with explosions, and it is so not the sound of music to these my ears, for all that the fireworks are pretty. While my eyes are seeing fireworks, my ears are hearing – REMEMBERING – a place I am familiar with being shelled.
And I find myself by the big finale repeating like a mantra, like a prayer: “Never in my lifetime. Never in my lifetime. Never in my lifetime.”