I don’t know what he thinks.
Does he think nobody notices?
Does he think he acts the same?
It’s always a secret,
he never lets us see him drink.
He’s good about that.
But does he not understand
the resulting change?
It’s always just one night.
One long night as his cheeks and nose
redden, long hours as he loses
his senses and becomes more sensitive;
Never to the point where you could prove that he was drunk
Often to the point where you could tell.
He picks faux fights for fun,
And it hurts my heart to see it.
But I cannot say a word
when he is not in the state to listen.
He lumbers around, accuses more, feels more accused
until curling up to watch my movie on the couch talking throughout,
eyes squinting when he comments and snarkily cackles
at the joke that wasn’t funny
until he falls asleep.
I have peace in knowing that my witness will be bared but on this night
and not again soon.
But it has been three days;
it is a constant state,
and every time I think it is ending
his silliness strikes.
It was like this when I was eight,
shortly after his father my Papa died.
It’s been better for years,
only one night at a time.
But it has been three days
and he has woken my sister with shouting at my mother
and I hear as he, offended, cries out that she accused him
and I see as she walks away straight faced
that it hurts her heart as well.
That this is not a part of the reason she loves him.
My grandma is dying.
I think that’s why.
He broke down crying in the car
when I drove him home on Thanksgiving
because my grandma’s not the same
and his brothers didn’t talk to her in the corner with her oxygen tank.
Cancer bit both his parents
and it makes me want to cry
because this family’s habits, like these three days,
will inflict the same illness upon his liver
And my mom and my sisters and I
will have to see his same painful dying
And I pray that I won’t drink.
It has been three silly shouting accusing overly emotional days
where the rest of my family, still with their senses,
pretends that he is the same
and right now he is on the couch watching my sister’s movie
and in a few minutes he will fall asleep
and I hope I pray not in vain
that it will only be three.