A McDonald’s birthday party.
Ice cream cake included
and red cardboard crowns
that turn us into signs
in photos. Happy and bearing our brands across time.

It was a treat then, clamoured for:
the shaker fries in a paper bag,
milkshake flavours
for a limited time. Collect them all.
The lonely figurine, its companions

released over weeks.
Kermit on his skateboard,
Piggy in her car. We came back,
pressing the stickers to our placemats.
We became regular, as was intended.

We hoarded the sauces,
the tubs in a cupboard at home
with the sachets of salt and sugar.
It was largesse to be raided,
we the poor relatives

swiping what we could.
We never used the salt,
but things had for free
were an undeniable good.
McDonald’s could afford it.

I have my party here:
there’s no playground at this one
but it still counts.
It’s the same as James’
and this is my occasion.

He’s at the end of the table
and I have crowned him
as he crowned me.
The whole class invited.
And to cap it all,

here comes Ronald
– as famous as Santa –
bearing my pastel cold cake,
solid ice cream. Here’s my recognition,
admission to the monolith.

It’s a McDonald’s birthday party,
and I have passed
beneath the arches.
I squint and
make a wish.