after the bang
bits of paper & smoke . . .
Fireworks have been an integral part of many Asian cultures for centuries, especially that of the Japanese. We see many examples of this in the woodblock prints by Hiroshige, in haiku by Masaoka Shiki and other masters, in prose by Yasushi Inoue, and by countless others.
Fireworks are ancient, temporal, intangible, celebratory, exciting, powerful, dangerous, and meditative. Fireworks have often been compared to flowers in the sky. Blossoming for a moment and falling to the earth like a cherry blossom. Even the technical names of many fireworks in Japan and China incorporate names of flowers.
On this side of the Pacific, one can easily remember those summer nights in our youth setting off fireworks in the street or going with our families to see a 4th of July celebration in a nearby town. What I remember most is the humble bottle rocket. Placing it in a bottle or sticking it into the ground. Aiming it into the sky and lighting the fuse. I would stand back and watch the orange and yellow sparks spit and hiss in a cobalt blue night and then with a gray streak it was gone, gone into the sky. Someplace in the darkness overhead I would hear a bang and see a blossom of light. The brilliance would dissipate quickly and you would find yourself standing alone in silence, mesmerized by what you had just seen and felt.
This is why bottle rockets.
—Stanford M. Forrester, editor
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