Apologies by Abbey Murphy

You don’t owe me an apology
for the restless school nights
the tossing and turning
while little arms wrapped around my neck
and suffocated me.
They crawled and crowded into my bed
drifted to sleep. It was another night
spent waiting for you.

Don’t feel like you need to explain
rationalize, justify
every bottle against the crumbling plaster,
and the hairline fractures crawling up the walls.
The glass was beautiful as it rained down,
glittering and coarse against soft skin.
Your words were cinder blocks on my head,
So I begged for broken glass instead.

I could never be resentful,
of the loads and loads and loads
of laundry I washed.
Folded myself into towels and socks
and drowned in Great Value Detergent.
Hours spent at the scoured kitchen table,
Monitoring grades and report cards
Doing everyone’s homework but my own
with only Hamburger Helper to assist me.

(Some days, it was too much-
I wished they would disappear
just slip away
as silently and easily as you did.
I guess on those days we both wanted the same thing.)

I loved them, and hated you,
and despised myself
for every moment I tried to fill.
I bet you never realized how
the responsibilities of being a parent
could wash out everything else about you.
I’m as drained as the dirty dishwater
from cleaning their dishes again.

Please, don’t apologize

all the nights you staggered into bed
at four a.m.
and I staggered out
to hold your head over frigid porcelain
and brush the hair off your sweaty forehead.
It was easier to strip you,
scrub away the cloying smell of sin
and gin on your skin.
Good thing I was so good at handling dirty laundry.

You never remembered enough to regret.
An empty house, full of empty pantries
empty bellies
empty hands.
Those kids were starving,
but I was inadequate to fill the space.
But you don’t owe me an apology.

Abbey Elizabeth Murphy is an English and Sociology double-major at Drake University, is the Treasurer of the campus English fraternity Sigma Tau Delta, and is the incoming president of the Grant Writing Corps. Published in three other literature magazines, she realized that submitting her most recent work to AGORA would be a new and exciting opportunity. She enjoys writing poetry and short stories and reading science fiction novels and comics in her free time. After having spent a semester abroad, she realized her love of traveling and studying new languages, and much of her recent work focuses on the experiences she had with other cultures.