They arrived in a vehicle, all together,
sweat covering their bodies, top hats
in hand, dancing their preferred means
of communication, a jump rope swinging
between them as they climbed stairs.
We wondered who summoned them
to the birthday, but no one would admit
to booking this odd crew. While we drank
the punch bowl’s ocean, we watched
them pretend to swim across the floor,
while others coalesced into an octopus,
moving slowing toward their bodies
to consume them. We would’ve asked
them to leave, because we needed to light
candles, see its Las Vegas neon be blown
out of power, but they kept transforming,
from explorers climbing up each other
like they were peaks, to disco performers
who mimicked Travolta winning a trophy
that was the center of their delight.
A somber chant started. They brought out
cardboard tombstones, where they lay
across themselves, then popped out as ghouls,
white faced and bloody, parting the crowd
on their way to the exit, to the underworld.
The only thing we could do is pretend
they’d never come. Toasts were made,
gifts unwrapped, in the presence of death,
still haunting the rooms, as if each person
had seen what it was like, then had refused.