Portrait of the Alcoholic
The summer we went on a big vacation—by which I mean we drove a few counties over & stayed in a single-story motel to escape our tiny town for a while—he came stumbling back into the room at midnight. Thankfully, it was after we’d let out the feral cat who’d found refuge under one of the beds, because, knowing my frugal father, he might’ve drowned the poor thing & tried to feed it to us with our fried eggs come morning. What I’m saying is he was ruthless. By which I mean he was inhumane, inhuman—at least most of the time. He hated everything about everything: the house, the way our mother dressed us, the way we wouldn’t look him in the eye. He nearly turned tornado every time my mother insisted I wear a white dress. I was a wild child, by which I mean I’ve always been seen as feral, meaning my father knew full well that anything white would be stained brown with soil & blood by lunch at the very latest. He hated my mother’s lace gloves, all the shoes she bought my brother. He hated life, I think. Insisted death comes fast. Why waste his hard-earned money on blonde hair-dye & white Mary Janes? As we walked to church one Sunday morning, he crushed a fluttering butterfly under his foot to show how fast beauty fades. That afternoon, he had all us kids watch as he sprinkled salt on snails, just to show us how fast we’d shrivel & die.
Despy Boutris is a writer. Her work is published or forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Southern Indiana Review, Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, The Adroit Journal, Prairie Schooner, Palette Poetry, Raleigh Review, and elsewhere. Currently, she teaches at the University of Houston, serves as Editor-in-Chief for The West Review, and works as an Assistant Poetry Editor at Gulf Coast.
Art: Molly Dunham