1996: The Last Birthday – Guyomar Louise Pillai

Flower-spotted frocks in the wind, pink icing on the cake. This is my day, gifts glinting in a heap.

No more dust on the sideboard, little girls with curled hair. They sit round a table, hands clapping near the pie.

Clinking forks, whispered giggles. Spilled fizz, wailing infants. The light’s turned mellow now, the running has slowed.

Brown shining faces, candles aglow. Time to huff and puff, and blow the doll down. Her blond synthetic hair shivers, and now they’re all out.

The wrapping’s in shreds, the presents now lost, the swings silent for years.

        A piece of cake sits on a plate, crumbled, unfinished.

The see-saw won’t swing, the children don’t speak.

          Still, the doll stands, forgotten and worn.


Guyomar Louise Pillai was born in Saudi Arabia, grew up in Mauritius, and has lived and worked in Paris, Boston, and Columbus. She hopes to visit and live in other parts of the U.S. and Europe someday. She has discarded her cosmopolitan aspirations in favor of an appreciation for the local and particular, yet transcendent. A PhD student in French, she feels equally comfortable in English and French. Currently, she is writing her dissertation that explores creolization, orality, and their effects on genre in artistic production. She also teaches French at Ohio State, becoming a better teacher every day. In the dark hours of the morning, she cultivates her poetic inclinations, and reminds herself to continue writing, always.