“I love you more than anything,” you once whispered in my ear,
while you read aloud Goodnight, Moon in my pillow forts,
and hummed quiet lullabies so I could rest.
“I love you too.”
“You are my world,” you repeated to me,
as you braided my hair and painted the toenails
I could not yet reach.
“But you are mine.”
“You are so lucky,” you told me,
when I was too young, too naive
to understand that word’s gravity,
still bundled in your love, still sheltered by time.
“I will always be here for you,” you reminded me,
as you kissed the salty tears rolling onto my flushed cheeks,
ensuring my own feelings of emotional security.
“You are just like me,” you said,
as I experienced my first panic attack, an easter egg, a crystal ball,
of what would soon become an endless number.
“God dammit,” you unintelligibly slurred,
the first time I heard cursive words roll off your fat tongue
and smelled your vile breath from across the dinner table.
“Have you been drinking?”
“I am the parent,” you shouted,
the first time I called you out on your toxic muse,
hesitant to make another sound with my ever trembling voice
but knew you wouldn’t remember the next morning.
“Then act like one.”
“You’re a bitch,” you screamed,
the first time I was attacked by your
glassy eyes and spitting mouth,
pinned down with a death-grip by your white-knuckled fists.
“Better a bitch than an alcoholic.”
For the first time, you said nothing
as I walked into our house, not a home,
and saw you passed out on the floor, mouth opened,
an empty green-glass bottle in your lap.
For the first time, I too was speechless.
“Go fuck yourself,” you howled
after you heard my pain-filled cries, produced by your loud neglect
of our CPS case’s countless clauses.
Your family’s living hell, your month-long vacation.
“Sometimes I wish you were dead,” you screamed
through a slammed door, surrounded by freshly shattered picture frames,
after I defended myself against your stinging words and returned angry words.
“Ask your psychiatrist for a noose next time you see him,” you jeered
when I expressed the impact of the years’ worth of your drunken verbal abuse
and the dark depression you caused as byproduct.
“Maybe I will.”
“Im trying,” you told me
just hours before my discoveries of your many secret stashes,
my discoveries of your betrayal of (what proved to be a broken) promise.
“I would do anything for you,” you explained,
while I remembered your affirmations are devoid of truth,
while I remembered you live in a twisted reality outside mine,
while I remembered your inability to put family before the temporary escape you so crave.
“I wish I believed you.”
“I’m sorry,” you whispered
from your Kettle One-ridden tongue,
with your empty tears salting my many wounds,
and mine later salting a blood-stained blade.
“I love you more than anything,” you now reaffirm
though you never changed your cyclical behavior,
though you never put me above alcohol,
though you continue to target only me in your drunkenness.
“Why can’t I feel it?”