Father is self employed.
Mother goes to work
Night shift at the processing plant.
She’s been working there for 20 years
5 days a week, leave home at 4 come home at 2. PM/AM.
Takes an hour to get there.
Father has been self employed for 20 years.
Her paycheck comes in the mail and without
Fail, father spends the money.
Manages. Father manages the money.
Twice, borrowed against it—I don’t want to know—when
It should be paid off.
Mother doesn’t earn much but
It should’ve been paid off years ago.
When they got married, father said
He would fix the house, sell it, and they’d move somewhere bigger, better.
Father goes on vacations.
Father goes on business trips.
To play blackjack
At Atlantic City. Even sleeps at hotels for free, he’s there so often.
Call it a business benefit.
Apparently, sometimes he makes money
Not that it ever goes to mother.
She thinks it’s good for him to go out and about
Else he’ll roam the local bars and come home after she does
Father called me the other day.
Mother says he’s read books, memorized formulas, watched videos.
Once, father became obsessed with golf
Bought himself a set, club membership, went to practice every day
Like it was his job.
I remember cold winter Saturdays on an empty brown-yellow green
Keeping score for father and finding errant golf balls
Holding the flag for putts and cheering him from the bunker.
That was when I was... small.
That was when I was young.
To go get a job.
I told him he was pathetic
Sad excuse of a person
I told him to leave.
I screamed at mother to leave him.
She did once. Without me.
Father is unpredictable.
Father is not well.
Other times, he’s depressed
Drinks and stays home, telling us that
He wants to die.
Mother has to go to work from 4 to 2, father stays at home.
I remember cloistered dark rooms on dreary Saturdays
Keeping count of father’s beers and finding bottle caps
Hoping father will be happy again and trying to cheer him
As only a small child can.
I... haven’t been the best child.
I was a child.
He wants to go to Las Vegas and it
Doesn’t come as a surprise. Truly. He’s already booked the tickets.
Mother tells me to just go and enjoy myself, not
Worry. There’s nothing we can do.
After all these years, it’s not father I’m trying to understand, but