Toast to a Park Bench
Everyone sees the alcoholic
that is passed out on the same
park bench every morning, rain or shine,
even though some pretend that they don't.
Most wrinkle their nose in disgust,
a few twist their faces in pity, but
they all agree that he must be drinking
to forget something terrible, but that
it doesn’t excuse the behavior they deem unseemly.
It’s only if you sit next to him at the bar late at night,
after he’s had just enough to loosen his tongue,
he’ll grab his wallet and pull out old photos with lovingly worn edges.
You’ll see the way his face lights up when he sees them and realize that
he’s drinking to remember.
He drinks to remember the way his wife smiled and sang
under her breath in the kitchen an off-key version of an
old love song they danced to on their wedding day.
instead of gloomy hospital rooms and the
steady beep of monitors that slowed to painful silence.
He drinks to remember the way his son’s
eyes sparkled when he laughed and how
they would toss the ball around in the backyard
instead of a folded flag and the crack of gunfire
giving one final goodbye.
They say that all the drinking will kill him
but, when sobriety leaves him with nothing
except tombstones and an empty house,
that park bench has a certain appeal.