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After the Party

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Sugar dries on paper plates. The cake’s   
decimated and barely touched. What to do   
with the balloons? A few float listlessly,   
unattached, still bearing like bandages   
the tape that bore them to the wall.   
They’ve gone dull, rubber tips darkening   
to a bottle’s pinch. It’s too late, or too early.   
There are too many on the floor, stirred up   
as I stir. In the end, I cut them, urge a blade   
into the inch between knot and blossom.   
Slow deflation. It reveals what they are:   
sacs of plastic, stale with air. I’ve seen this   
before, in the newspaper picture of Nefertiti,   
bound in the antechamber of a tomb,   
cast out of favor, her body, barely wrapped.   
How they know her: by the queenly jaw,   
age of limbs and teeth. Also, by the broken   
mouth, smashed by priests so she cannot   
eat, cannot breathe in the afterlife.

Source: Poetry (December 2008)
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After the Party

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