Kathryn Lipari

Your Mother Has Another Black Eye And

You cannot find a word in the dictionary or thesaurus
for the emotion that skitters on sharp little claws from your bowels to your lungs

You relive the night you blackened her eye
you were fourteen and drunk, she forty and drunker

You imagine your nine-year-old son at her house every Monday afternoon
confused by her tipsy, scared by her drunk

You recollect previous black eyes and the causes she attributed them to
a spider bite, a burnt out light bulb, slippery shoes

You try not to remember her accompanying injuries
bruises on her skinny forearms, bloated ankle, blood clotted at her hairline

You remind yourself that she has been sober for four years
You remind yourself that she says she has been sober for four years

You search her kitchen
open the green plastic bottle of Schweppes Ginger Ale and sniff

You remember how it felt when you were certain she was drinking herself to death

You resolve to call her every evening and tell her you love her
You make yourself an oversized martini at precisely five o’clock
You yell at her for taking your kids out to ice cream, then giving them soda at dinner
You fail to imagine yourself alive when she is dead

You stop yourself from reaching up to stroke the yellowing
purple crescent under her green eye

You picture your daughters old, alone, drinking nightly

You do everything but what you truly want to—
cradle her in your arms like a child and howl



Kathryn Lipari reads and writes in Portland, Oregon. Her short fiction has appeared in journals including Smokelong Quarterly, Typehouse Ink, Marathon Literary Review, and Women’s Studies Quarterly. She is a member of Full Frontal Writing Collective and smallSalon.com. When not writing she might be found running the city’s muddy trails or hectoring her three imaginative kids.