Cirrhosis Comes Home
by Alan Berecka

Weaned off of Percodan, my mother
returned from her stay at Marcy State
Psychiatric Hospital where her shrinks
were convinced the pain that burned her face
resided only in her mind, so they encouraged
her to drink a glass of wine or two each night
before bed to file off her edge, and help her relax.

As if a genie had popped from a bottle
of uncapped pink Catawba, my father
reveled in his good fortune. After decades
of her carping about his binges, she now drank
with him, and like some potion, the wine
created an uncorked woman eager for life.

But then her drink and humor hardened,
a constant stream of sarcasm spewed
from a bloated stranger. I hid most nights
in our refurbished basement, where one night
my father stood stone-sober wanting to share
his disbelief while he held a two quart bottle
of gin in his hand. He had scored its glass,
marked every bottle in his well-stocked bar,
each mark tracked her consumption, an inverse
growth chart that measured first in shots
and then in pints documenting a golem’s
growth that slowly replaced the woman upstairs.

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