Because of my father’s insanity
he clings to what feels familiar.
We burned wood
instead of using the electric furnace.
Mornings were the coldest
when the fire had gone out some time in the night
and I dreaded undressing to shower
or even pulling my pants down to use the bathroom.
We hauled our trash to town
instead of paying for garbage collection.
Sometimes we’d forget it, in the back of the SUV
and it sat all day in the heat
the smell of rotten food and dirty toilet paper
settling into the upholstery.
But we threw little away.
Old butter containers
and Ziploc baggies
we washed and reused.
Junk mail, flyers
and old newspapers we burned.
We kept anything that was still good
as if it were the Great Depression
and there was no telling
when we’d see a new zipper again.
Broken tools were still good.
Expired food, expired medications, still good.
Other people’s garbage
was still good.
My father brought it home by the truckload
stacking it, stuffing it, scattering it everywhere.
I do not miss this.
There is no nostalgia
about the hardships
There is only this wall of fire
in the back of my mind
to keep a perimeter
around myself, my family
to keep the wrecking wildfire of him out.