Park Bench

A Toast to a Park Bench

Everyone sees the Alcoholic
that is passed out on the same
park bench every morning, night, rain or shine,
even though some pretend that they don’t.

Most wrinkle their nose in disgust,
a few twist their faces in pity, but
they all agree that he must be drinking
to forget something terrible, but that
it doesn’t excuse the behavior they deem unseemly.

It’s only if you sit next to him at the bar late at night,
after he’s had just enough to loosen his tongue,
he’ll grab his wallet and pull out old photos with lovingly worn edges.
You’ll see the way his face lights up when he sees them and realize that
he’s just drinking to remember.

He drinks to remember the way his wife smiled and sang
under her breath in the kitchen an off-key version of an
old love song they danced to on their special wedding day.
Instead of gloomy hospital rooms and the
steady beep of monitors that slowed to painful silence.

He drinks to remember the way his daughter’s
eyes sparkled when he laughed and how
they would toss the ball around in the backyard
instead of a folded flag and the crack of gunfire
giving one final goodbye.

They say that all the drinking will kill him
but, when sobriety leaves him with nothing
except tombstones and an empty house,

that park bench has a certain appeal.

2 thoughts on “Park Bench

  1. Every alcoholic, every drug addict and even people like myself, anorexic, are real people, real human beings with lives and stories. It’s unfortunate that people can’t see beyond the labels we are given. Then when coupled with bipolar (myself) or other diagnoses for others, there seems no hope to be seen as a fellow human being. I use labels because they shorten the conversation, helping to bypass the need for a huge explanation, but those labels aren’t me, just as the label of alcoholic or drug addict isn’t the label of others.
    Some of us don’t recover. Why not show us compassion rather than disgust? They do that for terminal medical conditions. They even have an organization for that: hospice. But for us? No.

    Why not sit quietly with the person on the bench, letting them know they aren’t alone. Where’s the compassion…..

    Liked by 1 person

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