But this poem isn't about that


I should have known, really,

that Christmas Eve, when my father announced

we would open presents at 11 p.m., not midnight.

Disbelief, first.

My stomach fell, as I heard the alcohol,

and realized it must be so.

I escaped upstairs.

My mother followed, pleading softly for me to come back,

for the children's sake.

I told her I just needed a moment to grieve,

and she went back down to tend to fruit salad for 15.

Lives are built around certain rocks.

For some, it is the sun rising every morning.

For those like me, mistrustful of the sun,

it is opening presents at midnight.

I sat in the dark,

watched two decades of solid rock, crumble.


I called you, then,

fragile and holding back tears.

I thought you would understand the loss,

or that you'd at least have

soft words

for me.

soothe the blow; tell me we could make our own traditions.

a new rock.

But you were distant; harsh.

You pulled away, annoyed with grief you couldn't understand, and

with my tentative pulling for what I realized I would not get,

not even on Christmas.

I tried to forgive you that moment;

I was overly emotional, after all,

and you had other things on your mind.


I went back downstairs,

for the children.

They couldn't tell time yet,

after all,

and maybe my father wouldn't be drunk next year.


I should have heard it in your voice,

the shadow of all the moments spent with her

(with them),

the embraces stolen from me;

the soft words.

When you finally told me,

it was worse than breaking Christmas

it was everything crumbling at once,

not just a rock or two.


But this poem isn't about that.

It's about Christmas,

and how I should have known.

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