Whole Life Gone to Hell
(in the style of Cynthia Huntington, Whole House Gone to Hell)
jess ingrassellino, fall 2019
The mother who will not come down from her high.
Stereo blaring, parents fighting at all hours: the money,
the drugs, the laziness, the failure of her
husband as a man. Bleach-stained countertops,
flea-infested carpets, the daughter stumbling out of her
room after being punched, her bruised body in a baggy sweatshirt.
The autistic son running laps to calm his nerves.
No one speaks without fearing for their life.
The mother’s breath reeked of Jim Beam, elixir of despair.
The quiet anger. Father fidgets at his chair,
tapping his fingers and crossing his legs.
The family, the uncle, the daughter.
The mother, just clearing the door.
Vomiting now, stomach lurching in the toilet.
The daughter sobbing, the son sleeping,
The father addresses the uncle.
The clock is ticking, biding its time.
The hearts are beating, biding their time.
Her radio plays in the background, biding its time.
The daughter doesn’t remember, but sleep gets her.
The other daughter wakes, excited about the adventure.
It’s 1991, in a double-wide trailer.
Years pass, and it’s always the same. We wait,
for the peace that won’t come until they die.