For Olivia, on Your Sixth Birthday
by Morgan S. Grether
Imagination, birthdays are a time
For it, for you to hold your breath, and just
Before you blow out your candles, close your eyes
And make a wish about the year ahead,
What it holds for you, what you'll come across.
The morning of your sixth birthday we played
Outside in our back yard. The sky sat calm;
It rolled between those cool and pleasant ways
That Oregon is somewhat famous for
To start a late-May day, and we played catch,
Then kicked the soccer ball around the grass.
One shot of yours ran past me to the far
Side of our house, and then we stopped and looked:
There was a door we'd never noticed. Red,
Like rust, and nondescript, the door led down
From our walkway to a secret stair
Leading to another basement, just
Next to our run-of-the-mill, regular one
We'd been using all this time, but not
Connected. How had we missed this? It's hard
To fathom, but we had somehow. We pushed
The door ajar and stepped inside... and what
Miraculous magics did we find down there!
A ________ was propped against the railing, its
Amazing cover was all shiny gold
With silver stars. We stepped around it, down
The stairs into the room itself. Two ________s
Were hanging from the rafters by a chain
That stretched back to a dusty chandelier.
One ________ beside the stairs was marked "from Egypt;"
Another by the wall said "Harare,
Zimbabwe." Three elaborate cages sat
Stacked high against a post; in each there was
A ________ who watched us as we walked (I have
To wonder who's been feeding them down here).
Along the west, a row of windows bathed
The room in light, but looked out on a part
Of Portland I had never seen -- it seemed
More Paris or Buenos Aires. Three huge ________s
Grew there beneath the windows; their long leaves
Were covering a group of boxes filled
With ________s and ________s and ________s and ________s. We played
The day away, and seeing sunlight fade
We knew we should head back upstairs. We shut
The door behind us, knowing we'd return;
That night, exhausted, we spent dreaming of
Our great adventures in our other basement.