Wendy Mnookin

The Gods

My father spins and spins me

till, released, I stumble forward,

arms outstretched, clutching


a donkey’s tail. My friends

squeal and shout, over there,

over there! as I stagger blindly–


but not quite.

We have a secret, don’t we,

my father and I–


a thin slit of light

at the bottom of the blindfold

lets me find my way


and slap the tail on the donkey’s rump.

I’m only a little scared

when the lights go out


and my mother appears

with an iced pink cake,

candied flowers shivering


in the flame of seven candles,

one to grow on.

It takes a lot of breath


to blow out the candles.

It takes almost more

than I have. My mother


leans close. Make a wish,

she says. Would it be too much

to wish for a dog? My father


points the eye of the camera

right at me. I close my eyes

tight. Oh I want


to be on their team.

I want to wave a banner

and cheer for them,


this father and this mother–

not a real banner, made of cloth

and tied to a pole.


You knew that, didn’t you?

That the banner wasn’t real?

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