Birthday Poems

For Violet, on Your 11th Birthday

As we both lean back against the cafe wall,
The cool, white wall that’s lined with subway tiles,
And a nice but flustered barista makes our drinks,
Imaginary beasts flow through our minds.
Soft beasts, rough beasts, large and small, they growl;
They coo; they flutter about; they rest on doors
And window sills; yet no one else can see
Their fanged, horned faces or their fuzzy wings.
The rain pelts hard against the large glass pane;
The outside world is washed away. We wait
For soaking clothes to dry. “Hot chocolate!” calls
The cashier girl. We smile to hold the cups
And warm our hands. The rain keeps falling. Sounds
Blur. Thoughts drift. Wings resume their fluttering;
Small critters crawl; and big ones bark and howl
Across the ceiling, hanging down. The air’s
Abuzz with them, but no one’s noticed. Zoos
Would give a fortune for this menagerie
Of the mind. We laugh. They are ours. And no one else
Can have them. Wild, alive. We set them free.

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