Sea Legs and Empty Hands by Cate LeBrun

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sea legs and empty hands

a man walks into a bar. people laugh at dependency like
it’s in on the joke. isn’t it? aren’t we. i am the laugh lines
of my father above pools of whiskey tinted blood, wars
waged for decades against drinks that drowned fists.
we’re all tired in one way or another. i’m exhausted
drool on my chin from nights spent by the TV trying
to drown out the noise. family trees hover and haunt
like hangovers, gin halos buzzing behind the glow of sins
i committed before last call. before the last call we got from
him, the last call about him. the bottle by the bed, his body
and the floor one woven masterpiece. a decimal and a
hat trick for a BAC. two daughters. two daughters

i remember relatives who carried their sickness
the way i carry memories the way they ran from theirs

i want to help. i want to turn from everything they are.
everything i am. my aunt’s ribs, her bloated stomach
moving with a heavy life shallowed. things i didn’t see
because peace wasn’t a hand i was willing to shake. maybe
clichés are really clutches, bad jokes just lies we tell ourselves
to remember what it feels like to laugh. i keep running back to
them and other things: nights spent on the other side of the door,
forehead pressed to the wood kissing your palm. fingers clawing
at any part of you that will keep me afloat. i’ve built boats
from the wreckage. i’m split driftwood on shorelines.
there are holes in me everywhere

a man walks into a bar- all sea legs, all empty hands. in my
head, he walks back out.

Cate LeBrun

Cate LeBrun is a writer and special education teacher from Pasco, Washington. She loves dad jokes, extensive waffle menus, and a nice chat every now and again. Her prose, poetry, and short stories have been published in Gonzaga University’s literary journal, Reflection, and on her mom’s refrigerator.