Creative Writing

Not Like Dad

Words by: Mandy Tu


My brother tells me
he’s started drinking,
and I wonder if the alcohol
works as nepenthe,
if in forgetful embrace
the dreams welcome
him more easily, if the worries
of the world dissolve
into nothingness,
if he finds solace
in the shimmering wine,
I wonder if he sees
his own face reflected
or if his eyes are sadder
that look back at him.

I guess remembrance
of childhood nightmares
at the end of a broken bottle
are stronger in my heart than his,
for I hesitate to pick up a glass
to drown my soul within,
I see my father’s face
staring back, and I taste tears
in the water I down
thereafter. The wine waits.

I’m not like Dad, my brother says,
but his lips tremble
and the secrets at his fingertips
give him away when he reaches out
for another glass–
just one more, he says, for tonight.
My sorrows are far too heavy,
my thoughts too leaden,
come nepenthe, nepenthe–
let me forget the world.

I tell him I worry.
He is too close to a past
not yet forgotten, too well remembered,
the stench of alcohol
still gives me nightmares,
and to watch it mar
a soul that has with me
endured,–I tell him, too close,
you are too close
to the whiskey bottles,
to the empty bottles
of thoughtless wine.

Don’t worry, my brother says.
I’m not like Dad.
I’m not like Dad, my brother says
as he reaches out
for another drink.