about which of the family is out late, sharing the dark with reckless drivers
or who is short of money
or feeling out of sorts.
Weare all here, survivors, converging at your twenty-first. You are no longer a child
and I am no longer required
to act as trustee
of our father's will.
United, we declare your independence. I drink to your health
along with workmates
(for you have a job now
and plan a fortnight in France) or I chat to a svelte cousin,
last seen with fat legs propelling a toy scooter.
Do I think of us
as a doomed family still, gatecrashing an uninviting world? We pose for photographs, slipping arms round waists
like life belts ...
You cut through your name dripped in sugar icing , on the home-made cake
to the darker texture underneath and distribute this admixture
for friends, neighbours, relatives to sample and appraise.
Weare a close-dancing
family tonight, celebrating
that you have come of age: affable, happy, relaxed
i~ your floral party dress, dIsplaying no after-effects of your years of grief