Binge

Wednesday night sessions inside my dad’s shop
where blue collar beer bellies escape
frozen tray dinners, work calls or wives
with old man gossip and southern slurring

behind three garage doors and our back deck.
I am home on summer break
watching ten Netflix episodes
pajama-clad with a tall glass full
of chocolate milk when I am called

to play sober taxi for Barry.
He stumbles through headlights,
fumbles with the door, falls
into the passenger seat
and Dad steps up to my window
laughing at the squinty-eyed man
who drops his purple bag
of half-full Crown Royal
to the floor as he wrestles

with the seat belt. Drive careful
and I do. My dying air freshener
will not cover the smell of vomit.
Barry asks about college,
says my ex-wife is a
whore, daughter wants
nothing to do with me.

He’s glad that classes are going well.
I watch him survive the key gauntlet,
bending to lift the mat, slow-motion
momentum planting his face
against the screen door –

all spotlighted by high beams.
But the lights are off
inside the empty house
and his Crown sits
forgotten in the floorboard.
I find it when I park at home,
overhead bulb absorbing
shadows around the purple drawstring
I now remember packed full
of marbles in the toy chest.

Karen Bourne

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