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I’d paint my nails with little flags

using a toothpick for the white stars

and I’d sit with my sneakers in the sand

left over from the winter snow

on the streets of Needham

on the corner by the church and the school

where the sirens would echo

and the drums would rumble in my chest

and the muskets would explode with clouds of gunpowder

aimed toward the green leaves and blue sky

 

There were little flags on wooden sticks

and we’d wave them at the parade

and catch tootsie rolls thrown by

boy scouts floating on the back of flatbed trucks

teeming with red white and blue everything

 

and when the last float went by

and the music died out

we would walk to the field

covered in white tents and fleas

and with a few dollars in our pockets

buy fake cigarettes and ink

squirt guns

and necklaces that had our

names written on grains of rice

 

and it was always the perfect day

and the sun would always shine

and the tootsie rolls wouldn’t get stuck to our teeth

and the flags would never touch the ground