Christmas in Rehab

My family sits
across the long table

With shell-shocked trepidation
they push over
their presents for me

I don’t deserve this, you know?
Any of this

Not the presents
Not my family here

taking time from their day
to spend it with me

How well I remember
Christmas last year

Shooting dope
in my mother’s bathroom

I pulled out the needle
before I’d loosened the tie

showering the room
with the spray of my blood

Oh, the lies that I told
to explain that

But I could tell
from the stony looks
on their weary faces

that they knew
I was a liar
through and through

That even at Christmas
their belief was not a gift
they could afford to give away

My mother and father
hand over a card

Inside they’ve inscribed
“You are still our son.”

Mom and Dad
I love you so fucking much

How, in God’s name
has it turned out this way

Two Christmases past
I was pleased with myself

and the expensive gifts
I had to bring the whole clan

But three nights before
I was mugged in the street

and the small wad of cash
I had saved
to buy dope

was used to soften
the sickness of another

So, really
what choice did I have?
Except to pawn the whole lot

and show up at the door
with nothing
but my miserable self

They’re not allowed
to hug me
or touch me at all

and I’ve never needed
the feel of their warmth
like I need it now

But as they walk out the door
and turn for goodbye

against their better judgment
I can see in their eyes
the faint glimmer of hope

that things will be different
things will be better
next Christmas

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