Just once each year
I can recapture something
Of childhood’s summer-scented magic
When, on Illumination Night,
The band plays in the park,
And one by one, instead of stars,
The Chinese lanterns light the dark
Tree-sheltered sky.
The shadows of the oak trees, dwarfed
And twisted by the wind,
Loom giantlike among
The little houses made of wood,
Or gingerbread.
At last each house is hung
From porch to peak
With lanterns, and the people
Sit in rocking chairs, or walk
Around, around the circle.
Wind-stirred sea air,
Marigolds and popcorn,
The smoke of candle wicks.
How brief the flame!

-Dionis Coffin Riggs, 1898-1997