Letitia Trent and Zachary Trent
It only took three or four times
I coughed three times and spit
drunk driving with dad
in the balled tissue: blood, bright
once we wound down a mountain
on the white fluff, shaped
my five year old frame crawled to the back seat
like a heart. I coughed until
grabbed daddy’s beer six or seven times
my breath hitched, nails dug the couch cushions
some cop noticed his slurred driving
I was lit like a lantern
drove us both to a station down the mountain.
hands shook as the orange juice jug slipped
Father would say how lucky we were—
from my fingers and skittered across the kitchen.
the brakes fell off as they towed the car away
I called her. Mom, I’m coughing up blood. What?
Later, dad was drinking rum
coughing— I held the phone away
each block we went his bottle weighed less
cough syrup she insisted. I spit
He idled by two teenage girls
blood threaded through
Oh my God, they said
I hung up. Slept for three days
A drunk man is driving two kids in a green van
tucked by the woodstove
when they found him he was asleep, engine chugging
curled knee to chin. Couldn’t raise
we returned with our half-full bags of candy
hand to face. When the fever broke
is this your dad? They asked
She said Lucky you have your mother—
We’d already learned to fear the police.
I had nobody. She hauled me up
we waited in the police car till stepmother
shoved spoonfuls of soup
arrived what are you supposed to be? “Hobo” I said
between my lips. She hummed and
they laughed. Fitting. The drunk’s son’s a hobo.
took my face between her hands.
When my stepmother came
I smelled her lipstick, her hair, her polish
she said “what a piece of shit your father is.”