Issue 102, Spring 1987
The little candles which dot the rosette-bedecked
Sheetcake sway so demurely that the happy
Huffing and puffing comes as a cosmic surprise,
An operatic act of gods. What a wind is this breath!
Their eccentric niece, the one who went out West
But flew back for the party, still can see the flames
But tells no one. The flames are Aunt Bea and Uncle Harry.
They stand slightly wavering in the draught of the years
But lambent nonetheless, pleased to have survived
When others just as notable and kind have died.
When they kiss their errant niece, she is burnt but it
Feels good to be branded by these reconciled lives.
Each plastic glass contains a rolling sea.
Each hors d’oeuvres plate is green and greasy.
Bea’s sister, Dora, is crying passionately, staring
From her folding seat into an abyss of joy.
Soon it will be time for dancing.
This means a bald accordianist and
A toupéed, still Sinatra-smitten vocalist.
The niece starts tapping her spoon on a coffee cup.
She knows that the room will dance in that earnest
Way that rooms dance. The building will kick in too
And the street won’t want to be left out nor will
The automobiles which have been standing around
For hours patiently waiting—they love locomotion.
Bea and Harry take the first steps and it feels
Like the dance of life: feet beating the floor.
Arms entwined, bulging torsoes bearing rhythm.
Everyone is suffused with music.
The niece forgets her extremities, her rises and falls.
Everything is actual, for once and for all.