The Thing That Breaks Plates by Zoe Woodbridge

When she’s mad she drops things

like plates and pots of water.


She never dropped either of us, thank goodness.

She always said she would drop him first.


Our father, that is, as he sips his drink in the parlor

if you can even call it that,

as my mother washes and drops her dishes

and fights back years of words she’s never said.


I skim, no…I read, I immerse myself in his poetry

and maybe I can see why he drinks

each glass of wine or vodka depending on the day,

because his life is so hard.


How do I know? Because he’s told me so.

Everyday he told me until I stopped asking and then,

then he kept drinking and nothing changed.


Nothing ever changes until he stops drinking

Then the plates stop dropping but the yells are louder

and the doors slam louder and I hear everything.

We hear everything as our ears are pushed against the door.


I see now this is it, this is what tears families apart.

But we still cohabitate this place, this home.

She talks of leaving but she won’t

I know she won’t.


She can’t leave because I already have left,

gone to a place where they drink more, sometimes

they even drink themselves to death and I don’t get it


Why they push vodka down my throat when I refuse

and it burns, not the alcohol but these hot tears running

down my face, they burn my face


And I’m just left with scars on my cheeks

and pieces of  broken plates.


1 Comment

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One response to “The Thing That Breaks Plates by Zoe Woodbridge

  1. kgavin2

    We liked this one, it had a good deep implication. What is the age of the person speaking, and how does this effect the reactions of the person? It isn’t as clear what all this means for the speaker, and age could be a factor. Third stanza from the end left us a little confused; what is the meaning behind the line, “She can’t leave because I already have left”? Also, perhaps clarify the ending?

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