(Andrew Valdivia/Unsplash)

The morning after Rita’s birthday celebration,
we descended the stairs,
surprised the balloons had moved
from the dining room to the kitchen
their colored ribbons trailing down to the floor.
How festive it was to eat
breakfast beneath them.
By the next day a couple had drifted
upstairs to the head of the hallway,
as though deciding which bedroom to claim.
Others lowered their blank faces
to ours. For days they bobbled among us
as we prepared meals or drank wine
and nibbled cheese, at every turn bumping
into them like guests at a crowded party
or our missing family reconvened,
in no hurry to leave,
desperate to eat and speak.

Paul Martin has published two books of poetry: Closing Distances (The Backwaters Press) and River Scar (Grayson Books), as well as three prize-winning chapbooks.

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Published in the June 2023 issue: View Contents
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