The smell was noticeable, decipherable . . .
I have known it since long before a child should know such things.
The aroma has permanently permeated my nostrils,
even now in my well-adjusted (ha!) adulthood
one whiff from the breath of a non-alcoholic drinking from that bottle
and I am once again 7 years old,
opening beer bottles with my small hands . . .
carrying them into the living room . . .
during commercials . . .
careful not to interrupt whatever football game is playing.
Sitting across from my casual-beer-drinking companion . . .
it’s not his fault . . .
still I feel the tendrils of rage
slithering their way through me,
disgust and resentment welling inside of me.
I am 8 or 9 and we are sitting on a bench outside of a hospital . . .
a special hospital designed to make everything better.
It’s pretty like the pinks and purples of the sky at dusk
and comforting like a stack of pancakes on Sunday morning . . .
things will get better . . .
until they don’t.
We’re laughing . . .
My own empty glasses of Long Island iced teas
spread out in front of me,
I’m tipsy like a toddler’s tower of blocks,
but I don’t drink beer.
Beer is the sound of beration,
that aural memory of ant-like status.
It’s wet as tears and cold as isolation,
it’s hours spent in front of windows
eyes glued to passing cars like an excitable puppy,
it’s forgotten birthdays and pseudo sorries,
lies and excuses
and angry words hauled at a recently motherless child . . .
it’s him and all my years of futile attempts at perfection . . .
the reason I don’t know how to love myself properly.