Party Tricks

my party trick used to be that
drinking didn’t make me throw up.
give me another shot,
a taste of whatever that is,
fill me up with laugh; body brimming,
i turned any dance whirlwind—
i didn’t have a limit.
just enough to make me comfortable,
so i had something to do with my hands,
to make me forget how anxious i was,
just enough to keep me happy—

my first drink was when i was 15.
the boy i sometimes call my brother told me
i wasn’t going to do well in physics anyway;
let’s stop studying, do something else.

my mother’s father died a fish,
belly up in a bottle of happy,
thought he knew how to swim out of himself;
found out too late he couldn’t breathe on shore.
so when i tell my mother about my party trick,
she reminds me that she only has one glass of wine on holidays
because she has never thought “dance” of the whirlwind
that uprooted her family.
she tells me that addiction is hereditary,
so she makes damn sure
to keep her veins away from its beg.

i don’t believe her until i am 19
and i no longer have a party trick.
my best friend’s father has always
made her house smell like slur,
so when i call her with my jaw full of lonely ocean,
she recognizes its stench.
i tell her i just want to laugh so hard
my cheeks hurt and my chest breaks out of itself.
but when i run out of dances to learn,
i brew myself alone in my room.

when i tell my therapist i am a social arsonist,
i leave out how often i attempt to start fires;
how good i’ve gotten at treading water.

so i call my mother and tell her i’ve stopped growing gills.
call my brother and leave him a voicemail
in which i tell him i love him 32 times.
call my best friend and tell her
i just want to be happy.
so last time i started to swim out of myself,

i reined in my veins.
poured the rest of the whirlwind down the toilet.
i am still brimming with grandfather’s blood,
still treading water,
but i don’t have to be comfortable there.
i can still learn some
new party tricks.

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