half alive - soo zzzz CC
San Diego Has a Meth-Related Death Every 23 Hours
The first goodbye came the day I found the meth-pipe on your nightstand.
It was a dead-end sign in a short cul-de-sac: too obvious. A dirty piece
of glass with a strange weight to it. Time thief, stealing my father.
I struck the pipe with a gasping fist. Stray fragments splintered
the soles of our feet, cut open by my futile attempt to save you.
Destruction was not the help you needed.
I am your only daughter, a minor when I first testified on your behalf
beneath the ragged tick of a plastic office clock. I could recount
your story before I learned how to speak my own.
Your visitor amid the syringe-scent of at least a dozen hospitals;
I could call your nurses before I could write my name in cursive.
Teachers shook their heads as I traded pretty words for your survival.
But we had a pact and a secret handshake. We ate takeout burgers and milkshakes
off the dashboard of your truck at the duck pond. We snuck onto the drive-in
movie lot and projected our home-videos on the big screen.
You recorded my birthday parties and the second half of every play. You were never on time.
Your love was not perfect. But it was more sure than the blanket of stars above our heads.
It still keeps me warm. So let this be your keepsake, an unbreakable heirloom of warmth.
Now you are gone, and our house is sold. My grandmother gives me your wristwatch.
I spin its empty hands counterclockwise as if I could move time in reverse: you
rise up from the grave, put down the pipe, and walk back into a steady job.
Your mother recalls a story about her dead son. Once, you were small, and
you thought the church bells were the sound of an ice-cream truck. You ran
down the aisle in the middle of mass. I choose to stop the watch right there:
You, full of hope, as you run towards your future.
Krys Walls is a queer poet whose work focuses on identity, the climate crisis, addiction, healing, and community. She grew up in San Diego and now lives in Brooklyn.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.