Daddy Drinks; a ghazal

I was four years old when I learned how to make a “daddy drink”

Ice, gin, ginger ale / that’s the only thing my daddy drinks

For half the week I’d play bartender / scribble orders in crayon

Then run off to the kitchen / pour, mix & serve my daddy drinks

On the other days I played with barbie dolls and monster trucks

And my father would go to see a real bartender. On those nights, daddy’s drinks

Were poured with heavier hands. My father made sure to tip

Until the bottle had nothing left. And my daddy drinks

Until he is full. Of liquor or courage or rage

And it makes him feel good / when he has his “daddy drinks”

When I drink I prefer hennessy / mixed with hennessy

And It makes me feel good – but not like when my daddy drinks.

I am my own bartender, But not every day. Only on the days that hurt.

Or the nights I can’t sleep. Or the weekends. Or when I go home and daddy’s drinking

I pour a glass and we toast to our problems. Drink / until our hearts feel warm again

Until we are both full. But I don’t get full like when my daddy drinks

When I get full, I am full of.. Of liquor – But I am also full of joy. And laughter. I am full of light.

Even if the light is a flame. Even if it does burn me or the people I love. But daddy’s drinks

Burn more than mine. I know. I’ve tasted them. Seen the flame

Leave out his mouth and burn a hole in our own family. When daddy drinks

I take a deep breath / then I take a shot to numb whatever is coming next.

I call it support. Call it family bonding. Then I call daddy’s drinking

An addiction. Like I didn’t watch it become a fixation then blame him for his broken 

Like I didn’t go from being bartender to daddy’s drinking 

Buddy. And I like to blame him / for a lot of what is wrong with me

And it’s similar to how he blames alcohol for a lot of the wrong he’s done but daddy’s drinking

Ain’t a problem – if you ask him, he a grown ass man

And the dr says it’s okay if daddy drinks,

Occasionally. And what is every day but an occasion – an opportunity to feel something 

Or nothing at all. Lately when daddy drinks

His body asks him not to. I think it’s trying to tell him it’s had enough.

That it’s full. I think it hurts. And the “daddy drinks”

Can’t numb the pain anymore. But I still drink the Hennessy

Still tell myself that it burns different than daddy’s drinks

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