I'm Jessica. I'm 23 and studying writing in Melbourne, Australia. I get paper cuts too easily, and I sometimes drink red wine a bit too much.
The Last Break-Up

by Eloise Klein Healy

Maybe if she hadn’t dyed her hair purple
and if she had gone to class
when I dropped her off each day,
then maybe she wouldn’t have
gotten a heroin habit
and completely crashed your car.
If she hadn’t gone to jail and
if you hadn’t had to call your ex-husband
to meet you at the lock-up,

and if I had been the one
in family therapy with you
at the hospital instead of him
those three months of weekly sessions,
then maybe you would have
seen her talk to me
the way she talked in the car
on the way to school,
her hair glossy as a grackle,
back-combed on the top, nape
shaved, a perfectly crafted
punked-out geisha teen.

If you had seen her talk to me
then you would have known
I was her family, and not
like the one your mother had in mind
when she said “you need a man
to take care of you.”
If you didn’t take that advice so
to heart, then you could have
heard your daughter talk to me
about me moving in with you,
and if she hadn’t painted
her bedroom black and ruined
the apartment so that your lease
was broken and you had to move,
maybe you wouldn’t have said
she had to live with her dad
and his so-called bitch
who smoked dope all day.

If she didn’t find heroin
then maybe she wouldn’t have
felt superior to that stoner step-mom
and had to run away again
because there was no home with you
to go to.

If she had had a home
maybe she wouldn’t have
needed a motorcycle
to make you mad at her some more
and you find my defense of her
tedious, and if I would have been a man
I would have told you to “calm down”
and you would have believed me.
Instead you said you had to
find a man and be normal again
and you wanted me to make that all right,

but by then I was so
bereft, as if my chest
had been unbuttoned in a
blizzard, I couldn’t say
that it was fine for you to leave me,
to believe that admonition of that mother of yours
whose boyfriend was “hit” by the mob.

If you had just let me attend
family counseling and if you had
heard your daughter talk to me,
I think we had a home to make.
I did.
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