The Piñata by Dana Robbins

Photo of brightly colored fringes
Photo by Joshua Coleman on Unsplash


It was my granddaughter’s fourth birthday party. I, old lady
with cane, was sitting in the shade on the side, then made my way
cautiously to watch the children hit the piñata with a plastic bat.

(In my support group for survivors of sexual abuse, one man told
of being hung and whacked just like that; he had black circles
under his eyes from never sleeping.)

The first few hits yielded no shower of candy and toys. The kids
tried again, whacking harder and harder, even the littlest,
while the adults yelled raucous encouragement.

One child, curly honey hair, Grace, approached, hit it softly,
almost a tap, as if afraid of hurting it. After more blows,
and a big whack delivered by a parent, the piñata at last

surrendered its goodies to eager little hands. I went to return
to my seat, caught my foot on a stone and went down. I was not
injured, just shocked, but people clustered around me. I opened

my eyes and looked up into the eyes of Grace regarding me, her brow
furrowed with deep concern. I was lifted to my feet, taken to a chair.
Later, as Grace’s father left with her in tow, I went to tell him how

touched I was by her empathy. He thanked me and said, proudly, “Yeah,
she’s a sensitive soul.” I wanted to say I worried for her but just then
I felt the tears forming behind my sunglasses so I walked away.

After a long career as a lawyer, Dana Robbins obtained an MFA from the Stonecoast Writers Program of the University of Southern Maine. Her books of poetry, The Left Side of My Life and After the Parade, were published by Moon Pie Press of Westbrook, Maine, in 2015 and 2020, respectively. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals or anthologies, including Door Is A Jar Magazine, Edison Literary Review, Euphony Journal, Evening Street Review, Existere Journal, Paterson Literary Review, California Quarterly, Calyx, The Cape Rock, Edison Literary Review, Ignatian Literary Magazine, The Magnolia Review, Mount Hope Magazine, Muddy River Poetry Review, Pennsylvania English, Poetica Magazine, Moth Magazine, Neologism Poetry Journal, Poydras Review, SLAB, Steam Ticket, and Zone 3.

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