After a Birthday Party

[after a birthday party]

the crowd has ended,

the party has left

you stoop, bent in half

at the waist like the creased 

napkins you lift 

from the dusty linoleum

floor that falls through fingers 

like seaside sun

before. the children

have dropped their broken

forks amid cake crumbs scattered

in candy wrappers in

the same swirling patterns of

oak leaves laid to rest 

in the ground

and you brush bits into

your outstretched palms, alms

for the poor

adults who only eat the 

sitting-in-the-fridge-for-a-week cake.

for a moment, 

you sit, legs weary, on a child’s stool

(and you wonder

when you last went to

a birthday party)

watching deflated balloons 

past their prime

lay on the floor because you

cannot bother to throw them into 

the garbage can in the corner. it feels too far 

so they droop,

lifelessly, losing air

with every breath

taking space that someone never notices

(and you realize the fan is on

and you wish you had

said yes to—)

until they shrivel, as

hollow as the empty room. 

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