"letter to my 9 yr old self" by Amy Rose Lafty


*CW: alcohol, alcoholism

You are stuck in the storm:

gray winds billowing, ivy

walls splitting, blue

mother weeping. Even the trees

are hailing down

taxicabs. These are familiar

rains, and you are sick

of taking shelter. You don’t need

to empty your father’s new case

of Miller Lite down the drain again-

he will only rally like a herd

of turtles, slow to know he’s drowning

you. He is without

peripheral vision, can’t see the way

you’re marked for the sewers

in a boat made of construction

paper. Doesn’t know he’s leaving you

with a box of dulled crayons and a rainbow

of abandonment. Doesn’t know he drank

your swim lessons away. Sent you

into a spiral with Scylla to your left

and Charybdis to your right.

I know the rain holds

its breath sometimes, stops long

enough for your mother to sleep,

for your father to pick up

a night shift, for you to set a tea

party for one. But it’s never long

before the sky turns nimbus

and you are again drenched

in a life built upon empty

beer cans and broken umbrellas.

And I know you’re tired

of promises signed in

flotsam, but I can

tell you this-

one day you will emerge

with scales you never knew

you had. You will drown

self-doubt in a chest

labeled “old treasures.”

I will place five-pointed

fish in your palms and

prove to you that even stars

can survive in water.


Amy Rose Lafty is a poet, momma, former educator, and cookie maker. She earned her Master of Arts from The Bread Loaf School of English and lives in Delaware County with her husband and two wildly energetic children. Find her @arlpoetry on Instagram.

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