Empty

by Melissa Rose

the author’s mother

 

When I was ten

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

beg the reporter not to print the story

you were a single parent praying children wouldn’t be taken away

I didn’t know what “alcoholic” meant

just the sound of empty bottles

the smell of your breath.

 

Eavesdrop grown up talk about foster care for days but

probation turned weeds into wishes

when you were sober we used to take weekend walks down lonely beaches

collecting seashells like souvenirs

holding one to my ear you said

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

this is how I remember you

I was a young statue

admiring a flawless block of marble.

Every year chips away parental perfection

over time your overcast reflect a rock bottom I can’t fathom

became a helpless star

watching the earth pollute

herself.

 

Alcohol stains the gene pool like an oil spill

by age seventeen we share our hangovers

like secrets

our sentences never make

sense.

I used to admire 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 watch you deteriorate into detox clinics

still filtering out the parts of you I want to remember and

hold those moments like souvenirs.

 

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

played to your rhythm

I want to bring the beach back home

gather shells from the sand

hold them to your ear so

you can listen for

the sound of the strength it takes to admit that

your imperfections are what make you whole

beautiful

and bottles are what made you

empty.

The author

 

About the Author

Melissa Rose has been writing and performing poetry since 2001. She currently travels across the United States conducting poetry workshops and helping others discover how writing can improve their lives.

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