For Binky

perched atop a tiny ladder
each holds fast to her balloon
oblivious to the children, the party,
the camera

it’s my birthday–I’m five–
just visible above the antique dining table
my hair stuck into a wiry rat that itches
and threatens to fall around my ears

on usual days, we’d climb your fig tree,
get sticky with juice oozing from those magic globes–
our competition only grey-green birds
that mock the cats and us

too dressed up today for such a lark–
instead I serve cake and brick ice cream,
open presents soon forgotten,
play childish games with guests

I win each round but lose the prizes–
“you don’t want your friends to think you rude….”
I want what’s mine            I want what’s fair:
my donkey’s tail is closest to the mark,
my rubber-ended wooden nose
lands closest to Pinocchio’s,
my list of little words inside the long one
outstrips the others by at least a score

so     sitting on that ladder
watching you watching me
must have been a still point–
time out from playing hostess
time out from growing up