I am glue.
I am born of mothers whose hope to
salvage deteriorating marriages, though strong
could not put their husbands’ nomadic hands at bay
I am born of fathers who only after losing it all
realize the merit of their child’s love
and at age 63 wish they would have saved at least one
poorly constructed, stick figure person, father’s day card
I am born of an older sister’s immense responsibility
a stand-in mother by age 13
Shielding baby sister and alleviating mother of
any pain that she could
years of this understudy, doctor says she cannot land the role of mother herself
I am born of older brothers turned against their old men
a weasely young kid learned to fight
won’t take another right hook like that again
he is his own family now
I am anxious.
I am sarcastic.
I am the most hopeless of hopeless romantics.
I am my mother’s second-life teen
defining single-parent family together as we go
food pantries, latch-key, pushing boundaries
tired eyes, no surprise
but would never miss a Friday night game for me
I am opinionated.
I am thrifty.
I am your best friend for as long as you will have me.
I am my father’s Sunday-buddy
his check writing, shit-shooting, asthmatic, feta-eating mini-me
desperately trying to make up for years in 2-3 hour weekly intervals
he says I love you first now.
I am hot-tempered.
I am forgiving.
I am convinced of the brain’s capacity for resilience, and change.
To an extent.
I am my mother’s greatest expense
never enough but always somehow making it stretch
to payday-loan-afford uniforms, high school dances and organic vegetarian whole foods for my 4-year fad that will end come 1 and a half months of dating that one that made me lose who I am
I’ll have my first part time job by 16
but will spend the next 4 years dishing everything out on gifts and dates with whatever guy is defining my life at the time
I am selfish.
I am naïve.
I will squander my money on freeloading men and fruitlessly trying to keep up with fashion trends but would make Mom all but sign her life away to ensure she return that $20 she borrowed
come next pay day.
I am the welcoming recipient of my father’s unnoticed gestures
buying necessities for a bare fridge and lugging loads of laudry to the cleaners
to contribute in any way that he could
I will almost forget a thank you and proceed to eye rolls at returning purposely-missed phone calls
I am ungrateful.
I am moody.
I live like a bullet with its blinders up
too self-serving and obsessed with the target of my own affairs
to consider how the careless crossfire I’m causing ricochets off pierced feelings of casualties around me
I am messy.
But I can also mend shattered fragments together again.
And I am trying to hold it all together.