The Birthday Candle

October 15, 2007
By Bethany Chisholm, Wilmington, MA

The clock ticks as the flame burns,
melting down that column of wax--
a friendly cylinder
that plunges colored drips to their death,
corrupting the placid smoothness of a frosted cake.
That little tower--
fresh, pink, and candy striped--
revels in its power as the young pony-tailed girl
and the wobbly old man
fill their lungs with air
and whisper a wish into the wick.
She claps with joy--
she is sixteen,
that much closer to
womanhood, to freedom, to life.
He drops his head and sighs,
all the more closer to
wheelchairs, to Velcro shoes, to death.
It is quiet now--
the only sound comes from the hiss of an extinguished, charcoaled stem
and the ticking, probing clock.
They constantly compete
to see who can measure best;
the clock devours minutes
as the candle claims years.
But the birthday candles
are always victorious
for they have one
for good luck.

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