A Birthday Party

Through the gaps in the curtains
a half light bleeds in, the edges
of everything singed with the burnt
out wax of birthday candles. How’s
year five going, Will? We went to
that new trampoline place last week.
If you don’t finish your cake, someone
else will. Laughter (half). Normal,
normal. Watch the eyes as they map
the room, each resting now and then
on his picture. See them dilate, cloud
over, withdraw. Together without,
alone within. The children have boxed
themselves in a tent. And this, from the
window must look ordinary. Incense
burns and moves us elsewhere,
to stacks of hymnals festering, matchbox
cars stashed beneath pews and wood
that smells like old coins, touched. On
the mantelpiece his candle flickers live
and for a moment I want to put on
my grandad’s stole and kneel before
it. Tiocfaidh ár lá, he emails us that
night. Our day will come. It’s 2am before
I fall asleep.


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