by Sarah Cooper
We Thought About It
That’s a lie: I thought about it.
You had cut short on rehab, again,
shown up knuckles freshly scabbed
hands clenched for Dad, again, lost your job,
again. We could smell addiction
on your clothes: sweat, salt,
stale beer. We couldn’t
bandage you or let you slice us.
You slept in the room next time mine.
That’s a lie: you passed out. You had been awake
for four days: roaming town for
oxy, for yourself & finding sobriety,
hating yourself for the reintroduction.
You snored hard, slept for twenty hours.
I thought about killing you once,
that’s a lie. I walked into your room,
held a pillow inches from your mouth,
saw Gunny Bear under your arm
and left a tear on your cheek instead.
That’s a lie: I lay beside you
and whispered: Don’t ever come back,
don’t even think about it.
Always, my mother said,
we bought new shoes
for the kids in spring – their bodies blooming
against ball field backdrops and grass stained knees;
the earth rubbing itself into their skin. Never
did I know those shoes would carry my son so swiftly,
how could I know my husband, daughter and I
would choose cremation for Hank?
That the three of us would sit
at an oval table and sign
forms for his body to burn at 1400 degrees for 180 minutes.
I watched my husband hand the funeral director
a Belks bag and say
“This was a sweatshirt I bought him for Christmas”
and I felt the bag rest on the table underneath my palms
saw the tears crest over my daughters’ lower lashes
heard the papers rustle
in a folder and
Sarah Cooper is a native of South Carolina. She earned her MA from Purdue University and MFA from Converse College where she was mentored by Denise Duhamel. Her poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals including Sun Star Review, Sling Magazine and Cahaba Literary Review. Currently, she teaches at Clemson University, lives with an orange cat and writes poems on front porches.