In Adams Morgan, all pour downhill in search of a clear view of the southern sky. As the crowd crosses the street to peer over buildings, the strip feels unbalanced. It is as though 18th Street is a ship in danger of capsizing. The driver of a Safeway truck honks at the crowd. From somewhere above, a rough electric version of the National Anthem is being played.
South of Dupont Circle, the streets are empty. A helicopter hovers low overhead. Sirens in the distance. Explosions reflect unpredictably off glass walls.
In Bloomingdale, kids shoot rockets off at the corner. Regulars from the emptied-out bar nearby look on. "Next year we'll buy a huge box of our own," they say.
In an Eckington alley, kids dance around fountains of green, blue, red sparks.
Above, from the parking lot of the high school on the hill, fireworks tower over the city. Each one a signal calling wanderers:
an old man alone steps out of an old car;
cyclists stop en route to an after-party on U Street;
strolling lovers approach holding hands.
All are moths to the light of one family quietly taking turns lighting fuses. A private ceremony igniting the city.