I saw her stumbling across the basement floor,
tipping side to side from the bar to the door.
Cigarette and beer in hand,
I can smell the alcohol on her clothes.
She has dyed blonde hair and a closed piercing below her nose.
When I was fifteen she poured her drink down my face,
slapping the blush from my cheek as she opened another case.
At sixteen I drove her home,
gagging in the car as she mumbled and groaned.
I held her hair as she knelt over the toilet.
I cried silently there as I tried to avoid it.
At seventeen she told me things even her husband didn’t know,
about the cocaine, meth, affair and eating disorder.
She yelled at me as I got too skinny,
in front of my family and friends I tried to give her pity.
We clinked glasses for the first time,
chugging her glass as I gripped tightly to mine.
I drank as she drank so I could numb out her drinking.
The devil plays hard ball when you’re in the tub sinking.
At eighteen I saw her now without a ring.
I tell myself that I will never become a broken something.
I can remember the way she talked to me,
open mouth, yellow teeth, telling me I was a daughter to her in her time of need.
I cried to her.
Not mad at her for the bruises.
Not disappointed at her for her choices.
Not livid at the yelling and tides that crashed slowly into my skin
like beer bottles shattered on counters.
Not dreaming in the past that our times could be different.
Just crying during mass knowing that I was her victim.
I drink wine in the bathtub as I trace the scars on my skin.
She was a lovely sober.
At eighteen I can only relive the memories.
I don’t know where she is or who she will be.
The aftermath of the storm is always the worst,
torn up houses, scattered debris, my apocalypse first.
I feel her breath on my cheek as I walk in the wind.
The devil never rests,
but doesn’t always win.