as the kids next door
scream and howl and sing happy birthday,
I am busy pitting cherries in the kitchen
with an unfolded paperclip, jamming it into fruit
rooting around for the stone,
until there are two hundred and forty eight pits in one bowl
and two hundred and thirty eight pitted cherries
It is impossible to pit cherries
without taking a few for yourself.
It is also impossible
not to stain the tips of your fingers,
not to poorly pierce a cherry or two
and splatter your shirt, or at the very least,
the sunburnt skin of your arm.
By the time I am done,
the mothers have come to pick up their children
in a procession of headlights that looks like
lanterns floating in the dark.
The party is over. The favor bags are being rummaged through,
left in the backseats of cars.
I cannot remember any of the favor bags of my youth
except for feeling surprised every time
that I was offered a gift in return.