For Mary’s Eighth Birthday
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

What shall I do with this bundle of stuff,
Mass of ingredients, handful of grist,
Tenderest evidence, thumbprint of lust,
Kindly advise me, O Psychologist.
She shall have music—we pray for the kiss
Of the gods on her forehead, her necking of fate.
How in the hell shall we guide her to this
Just name her Mary and age her till eight.”

What of the books? Do we feed her on bread 
Of the dead, that was left in their tombs long ago?
Or should all the fervor and freshness be wed
To next year's inventions? Can anyone know?
How shall we give her that Je ne sais quoi
Portions of mama that seem to be right,
Salted with dashes of questionable pa?
“— Age her till eight and then save me a bite.”

How can I pay back this heavenly loan?
Answer my question and name your own fee; 
Plan me a mixture of Eve and St. Joan,
“—Put her in pigtails and give her to me.”


For Mary MacArthur, daughter of Helen Hayes. See also "Oh papa-..." poem.

Published in A Gift of Joy book (1965).

Not illustrated.