We would write our names with sparklers, wishing the light would last long enough to leave a light drawing, the likes of which Picasso might have winked at with a small smile. But we didn't know that much about Picasso in those young years of the Fourth of July, and neither did we know that sparklers might go by any other name, or that our tiny, crackling bright sticks could come in any other size.
Now we know. In a country where the fascination with fireworks and scant fire codes lead to larger-than-life productions, and a good cherry bomb is a staple for most boys far beyond an Independence Day party, the sparkler exists in a league of its own. Indeed, the word "sparkler" would never fit the the bill; the truth is that by any other name, the object in question really wouldn't be as sweet. Christened here as luces de bengala, or Bengal lights, they bring to mind more than little showers of glimmer. Bengal, exotic and mysterious and powerful, tigers and rains and colors. And seemingly endless incandescence.
Sold at traffic lights and street corners and market stalls, the vendors' fingers can look like those of the tin man, one solid color of lustrous gray. Because luces de bengala aren't a trifling thing, packed into slim boxes for a couple of quarters apiece. (Not that those sparklers should be taken too lightly, either--they burn at a temperature of 2000 degrees). The luces are material for a double take at first sight, some a meter long, like a metallic cattail from pyromania's paradise.
They make their biggest appearance during the Christmas season, used often during posadas and Christmas Eve's tradition of softly caroling a lullaby to the baby Jesus. Without much room in the patio to work with picassoesque flair, Tim kept his luz tame as it glittered the dark alive during the song. I couldn't help but think, though, that it was perfect for writing out a whole "Timothy" in the air, a brief flash of suspension, of identity independent.