College Move-In Day

She looked at me and sighed.

I brace myself, for I know

The edge of a temper always wins.


“You know this hurts

It hurts

It hurts

You’re hurtful

You’re hurting me.”


Then she asked,

“What happened to family?”


Out my window fly the miles behind

A year of long, dreary goodbyes -

An interstate odyssey

Meant to clear my mind of internalized



       The clatter of another dish breaking,


The tang of booze on the breath of a fool,



Sleep as the hive

takes over the mind.


“Mother, I’m sorry,

So sorry.

I can’t pretend that I’m happy here anymore.


I’m growing,

Still learning,

And if I died tonight I’d want you to know

I love you

Love you

Love you

                                                        But I’m not your fairy tale,

                       Your happy ending after

All these years of strife.


I’m sorry that I wasn’t there.


                                             I know you think I couldn’t care,


That I’m

                                                                           leaving you




But is it the work of a daughter, your misery?

The work of a son, a brain that replays

A life so unkind?


Is it the job of a daughter to be your friend,

A fence that can hide you from all that scares -

To collapse, exhausted, having repaid the debt of birth?


I can’t pretend that I’m happy here anymore.

It’s too defensive here.

It’s just not a home.


I wish I was better than I am.

But I’m not your sitter,

I’m not your friend.


If aging, if dreaming is a curse,

Then here I am

Succumbing to the worst.


If hoping, if growing

Is not what we’re yearning for,

I’m sorry,

Don’t call me home.


This poem is about: 
My family


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