"Empty" by Melissa Rose




When I was 10 my mother became a celebrity

the newspaper headlines read: local teacher caught drinking and driving

passed out in the middle of an intersection

a can of beer still clutched in your hand

my infant brother in the car seat beside you.

You begged the reporter not to print the story

a single parent praying child protective services wouldnt take us away

and i didnt know what "alcoholic" meant

just the sound of empty bottles

the smell of your breath

evesdropped grown-up talk about foster care for days

but your mistakes were paid for

in 12 step programs

and court fees

your probabtion

turned weeds

into wishes.

when you were sober, we used to take early morning walks down lonely beaches

collecting seashells ike sourvoniers.

holding one to my ear you told me: I could always hear the ocean inside if i listened

the sound of amplified waves creates a rhythm only mothers and daughters can dance to

and this is how i remember you

when we were in seperable

wasting hours

spending quality time

our weekends in local libraries or state parks

our afternoons

in art musums

i was a young statue

admiring a flawless block of marble

but each year chips away parental perfection

over time

your overcast eyes reflect a rock bottom

i cant fathom

when i was 12

i found glass skeletons hidden in your closet

became a helpless star

watching the Earth pollute herself

years of being the family foundation

erroading your strength like and abused seaside cliff

turned you into a maternal martyer

walking across quicksand

and i can tell youre drunk

before you open your mouth to make blacked out broken promises.

 

Alcohol

stains the gene pool like an oil spill

and by age 17 we shared our hangovers like

secrets

and i wanted to hug you so hard our hearts could hold conversations like two old friends

but our sentences never made sense

spent our weekends apart

just to drink in privacy

bad decisions

and AA meetings have made us more alike than ever

and i used to aspire to be like you

now our similarities

scare me

to this day

there are times

when i still need you

the day after i was raped

you were too drunk for me to tell you what happened

i've watched you deteriorate into detox clinics drowning in hallucinations

yet i still filter out the parts of you i want to remember

and hold those moments

like souvoniers

and when the afternoon finds you passed out on the couch

i still put my head to your chest

just to remember what the world sounds like

when its played to your rhythm

i want to bring the beach back home

gather shells from the sand

and hold them to your ear so you can listen

for the sound of the strangth it takes to admit

that your imperfections

are what make you whole

and beautiful

and bottles

are what made you

empty.