In the 70’s, my sister and I marched for civil rights,
gay rights, the ERA. We marched against war, hungering
for peace somewhere. Our mother never knew

that we chanted and carried signs— we’d stopped talking
about how we spent our time. She was absent, splintered,
committed to her own cause: to see just how far

she could disappear into a glass every night.
I did blame her then,
how she numbly fed her addiction while we faded

to the edges, starved. But when I was outed in high school
by my best friends, I appreciated the value of knowing
how to disappear. A couple of times in 12th grade,

Jane Whitley and I would walk four blocks to my house
at lunchtime and drink screwdrivers from my mother’s bar.
Then we’d smoke a joint and go to 5th period History,

our secret rebellion. My mother, her last dream
pounded out by my father years before, surrendered
to a prison of gin and bills, children and vodka—

her disappointments beaten into my morning eggs
every day until, at seventeen, I left.
It would be decades before I’d push back the plate.

Published in POEM Journal, May 2018

This poem may not be reproduced without the author’s permission.