Micromanaged Truth

by Jennifer Donnell

Dictate, to me, years one through three.

Let your father stay 

through that dinner

when his mistress needed him

while your mother was on the verge.

Let her spill the drink that tipped the scale

when your sister was in her womb

and may she rest in peace,

the way you tried when drunk houseguests

with wandering hands slept over.

Strike through your years of twelve through twenty

and the part where you took off your clothes

while her clothes were off,

even if it was her idea.

Place that in category x and 

don't as y, as it's one of the 

unanswerable questions,

such as why coffee tastes good

or why god is so bad 

at ensuring our happiness.

Or what's the point of any of this,

you morbidly ask me over the telephone, 

gruff and alone, except for me.

I try to be cute 

and rattle off reasons,

the way happy people do.

Yet, I could tell you about my years two through six

and would, except your sadness always wins.

Could explain how my mother left my father 

with a house full of bills 

but didn't just run as he helped her move

Though she drove the station wagon, it felt more like he left me.

We could fumble through my years of fifteen through nineteen,

which sure did a number on my self esteem,

when I couldn't master the anorexia

other girls seemed to,

considered myself a failed bulimic

and how I thought love was the only drug 

a principled person

would ever need,