a lot of stuff happens at a child’s birthday party and then everyone leaves

By Coe MacFarlane

pastel pink nylon
forming deep folds
towers bent half over
as air inflates and stretches
the walls making a small
door visible
hot sun beating down
hot ground under
bare feet
ice cream cake
half eaten
half melted
sweat soaking into
tank tops t-shirts socks
in sandals short dresses
baseball caps athletic head
bands backs of knees
slick under a rare
cool breeze
children bouncing
on the castle
child bouncing waiting
to open the first present
wrapping paper blown
away only one person
chases and everyone
else watches
plastic spoons try
to scoop up puddles
of ice cream from the
divots on paper plates
bending from the moisture
candles burnt on one end
still clinging to frosting on
the other except for the
ones children sucked clean
one child accidentally bit
the wax but is fine
water then soda then
not enough water
not enough ice
ice held on temples
ice water poured
on heads

when is the piñata?
is there a piñata?
a child is stepped on
in the bounce house
but is fine in two
minutes after
a kiss from mom
and a cookie
piñata bursts after
ten hits with the bat
and eleven swings
in the air
and one swing
that connected with
the tree holding it
children comparing who
got what candy who
got the most who
should have what
that’s not fair
wanna trade?
chocolate melted to
the inside of wrappers
and the cheeks
and the fingers
of children
loud radio playing
music from a CD
a couple years
out of date
goody bags lined
up across the edge
of the picnic table
draped in baby blue
plastic taped down
out of ice
warm soda
cool grass flowing in
the wind of the
deflating bouncy castle
one family left early
quietly a while ago
but now everyone leaves
at a normal volume


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