Ab.sin.the | Melissa Holm
Melissa Holm holds an M.F.A. from The University of Mississippi in poetry and a B.A. in French and English from Denison University. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband Matt, her son Lyle and a Labrador retriever who can’t retrieve named Sula. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Journal, Lunch Ticket, The Southern Humanities Review, and other journals and anthologies.
And the Mayor Named the Culprit Absinthe
My husband held a craving on his tongue the day he came home from the African war, held soiled crevices in his palms, dipped his fingers in the river, dried his hands in my hair. I will tell that which I did not then know: his boots were crooked laced when I poured his only absinthe of the day; the child I carried is a girl; Rose woke to a simple clang of the spoon against the lip of glass; Blanche sighed in the bassinet. The last breakfast sip carried a demand to wax the boots for mushroom hunting in the afternoon, before he tended to the cows. I will tell that which I did not then know: crème de menthe and a cognac at the inn; cheese and bread and wine at lunch; wine mid-afternoon, then more an hour later; brother and father and coffee and cognac; wine at my table while the chicken boiled white and I needed milk and he would not go. Instead, demanded a coffee and I gave it to him cold and the boots were not waxed. I too was crooked laced, was pierced with words from a wine dark tongue, then a bullet from his vetterli. Rose ran to me to meet a blue bullet in her chest, Blanche slept forever in her cradle, but when he ran to the barn, with the limp babe and the rifle in his arms, he found the barrel too long to take himself. The mayor showed the town our coffins in a line. My husband came to me, wiped the blood on his hands in my hair.