02 Jun What it Is by Audra Crago
It’s not so much the full bottles
As it is the empty glass.
A broken promise
Stale and sticky on the crooked coffee table.
I’ll never drink whiskey again.
It’s not so much the noxious assault in the doorway
As it is the broken flag on the mailbox.
Even when empty,
I pushed it up
To remind him as much as myself.
There’s still someone in there.
It’s not so much his photograph hanging in the bar
As it is the abandoned gelato shop on the corner of Broadway and Dawson.
I think I hold my breath now
Every time I pass it.
Our after-school tradition left to rot with the wooden staircase.
It’s not so much the overgrown pond
As it is the sickly yellow grass.
When we threw the ball too far,
The neighbour’s dog wasn’t as friendly as we.
These days, I’d take the dog over you.
It’s not so much that you yelled at the speeding car
As it is that you held me in front of it with you.
With headlights glaring and
The horn blaring,
One fist gripped my arm and the other met the hood
People screamed from the beach, but it was just a ripple in the water.
It’s not so much that you slapped my cousin
As it is that you fell into the Christmas tree.
He may have been old enough to know better,
But so were you.
And you have the nerve to be angry when I swear at the dinner table.
It’s not so much the dead squirrel on the basement floor
As it is that you left it there.
A limp mound of fur
Does not look unlike a stuffed animal,
And children aren’t supposed to be that perceptive.
How many times did we step on it before we felt bone?
It’s not so much that I dread the funeral,
As it is that I won’t know what to say in the eulogy.