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Washed and Flushed

by David Veloz

Sour but generous, our father drank water
like wine, sipping, sniffing, and swallowing
what seemed barely enough to wet the pipes;
but at night he'd splash our turned-up faces,
smiling pink from playing into the dusk,
until there was water on our collars and on the floor.
I had no idea that water could cure
a man or be the difference
between who stood tall and swollen and who sneered
with contempt when forced to swim.
I only knew that he was slow, unlaughing,
that he hated ice cubes in his soup, that I was fat
and slippery, always wet at the mouth, my palms
cool and sticky after square dancing, and that rain
never lasted long enough for me
but brought sharp curses from his mouth.
The only way I saw our difference
was the water.