My father scolded us all for refusing his liquor.
He kept buying tequila, and steak for the grill,
until finally we joined him, making margaritas,
cutting the fat off the bone.
When he saw how we drank, my sister
shredding the black labels into her glass
while his remaining grandchildren
dragged their thin bunk bed mattresses
first out to the lawn to play
then farther up the field to sleep next to her,
I think it was then he changed,
something in him died. He's gentler now,
quiet, losing weight though every night
he eats the same ice cream he always ate
only now he's not drinking,
he doesn't fall asleep with the spoon in his hand,
he waits for my mother to come lie down with him.
Reprinted from Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced, Alice James Books, 2004, by permission of the author. Copyright © 2004 by Catherine Barnett.
Source: Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced
(Alice James Books, 2004)