Dear Mama
Chloe, Age 14, Ashland, OR
                      Dear Mama,
Do you remember the night when you came home screaming
in someone else's car?
You wailed and yelled and tears were pouring down
your bright red cheeks.
No? You don't remember?
I'm not surprised
I guess the alcohol washes all the memories out of your brain

Dear Mama,
Do you remember how you looked at me and didn't see me
how I helped you to your bed, stumbling over your own feet,
how I tucked you in and left
and still you cried.
Do you remember how traumatized little Kelsey was?
She hid in her room, hunkered down like there was a tornado coming
only the tornado was already in our house.

Dear Mama,
Do you remember that other time on the airplane
When you had one glass too many
(or two or three or four or five or six)
and you came down from the sky unable to keep your balance
unable to remember my birthday or where we were going
or how to talk comprehensibly?

Dear Mama,
whenever I see a wineglass in your hand
I want to snap the thin stick it perches on
I want to take your bottles and pour their contents out the window,
a waterfall of clear, yellow, foul smelling liquid (like pee)
Never to be seen again
Whenever you order a glass at a restaurant -
"Just one glass, dear, what's the harm in that?" -
and then you call the waitress back for more and more and more
I give you strange looks
and you look at me back
and I can't do anything but shut my mouth.

Dear Mama,
I remember the night when you called me an ungrateful little brat
and I pretended it didn't hurt
because I knew you didn't really mean it
I cried myself to sleep that night.
And even though you don't remember
I do and I always will

Dear Mama,
They say parents are supposed to be role models
they say you're supposed to look after us
so that when we grow up
we want to be like you
Only I don't ever want to be like you
I guess you've failed that part of parenting, huh?

Dear Mama,
Here's to the nights when that foul smelling liquid
goes into your brain and takes away your motor functions
Here's to Kelsey cowering in her room
To the bad words you spit at me
and I tell myself they don't hurt
Here's to the things that happen
That you don't remember
But I do
and always will.
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