if your absence was no longer a choice
maybe the rest of our family
would stop looking at me
like a chipped-tooth smile

they can all see right through
like i am the daughter
of the knot in the skin
of a family tree

that is otherwise smooth
so i spend my time trying to prove
i am sunlight kaleidoscoping flower petals in May
shedding light on the fact that

being the only child
of a drug addicted father
hasn’t made it hard to grow
like i chose to call this thinning branch my home

when they can’t see me
i am frozen fruit, fallen from the limb
fermented through winter
drunk and fatherless

letting anything with teeth taste me
letting my drunkenness warm the bloodstream of a fox
so he might walk away with pieces of me
stuck in his snarl

so i might escape before the truth rots me
i embalm myself in bottles
and assume the booze on my breath
was my only inheritance

and even still
my heart
is hopeful as a dandelion
claiming to be wish instead of weed

still hoping to grow
as tall as the expectations
of my family tree
and after your absence becomes permanent

after they find your body
like a needle in a haystack
slumped over your haystack of needles
whispers will trickle like raindrops from the treetop

and i will shake the lonely from my coat
the frozen waters of wishing wells turned to snow
and collected on my shoulders
from all the winters i hoped you’d come home

i will run through the woods like spring
kicking up earth with each stride
like freedom billowing from my feet
like my smile is not a lie

like i am more
than the girl whose father
chose needles and pipes
over tiny hands and kisses goodnight

at your funeral, i will be dressed in white
and light as a fawn
racing the equinox
watching everything thaw

all that we could not let go of
released with your last breath
letting death whittle the bark
of our hearts into something softer
with a little less bite.




Mi-Mi Monahan is a preschool teacher and poet from Los Angeles, CA. Her work reflects her perspective as a queer, femme, and sober young adult making sense of the world through metaphor.

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