Paso Robles: Chemistry Set

I think I was seven or eight
when the next-door neighbors moving
gave me their grown son’s chemistry set.

It was a Gilbert — a blue metal box
full of things which should have been safe
but which no one knew anything about.

I put one chemical after another
into a little metal frying pan
which I heated over the alcohol lamp.

A choking fume flowed from a beautiful blue flame
hovering over the melting powders and crystals
and close observation of them required proximity.

The mix exploded suddenly and a large blue cloud
rolled majestically from our backyard
into the neighbors’ and on toward its entropic doom.

I saw my mother horrified in the window
and ran in calling “I’m okay! I’m okay!”  She was laughing.
My eyelashes, brows and the front of my hair were gone.