The Worst Part

The Worst Part

by Glenda Barrett

was not the funeral
but the cleaning of the house.
The smell met us at the door
and clung to us like guilt
as we filled garbage bags
with empty aluminum cans
piled on the living room floor.
The tattered, green couch
stained with urine and feces
was thrown in the trash pile
in the center of the yard.
Wooden floors covered
with blackened grime
were swept and mopped.
Dried, dirty dishes stacked
high in the kitchen sink
were washed and dried.
The dining room table
covered with rat droppings
was washed and disinfected.
We worked long and hard
but no amount of cleaning
could erase my feelings
of loss, shame and guilt.
When the work was done,
I sat on the porch steps
and watched the debris burn,
remembering this man who claimed
never to have a problem,
this man we allowed to be left alone.

Author’s Comment: This poem was not an easy one to write because it involved a member of my family, but I wanted the secret of the dreadful disease of alcoholism to be brought out in the open. As so often happens it is hidden. I can remember how when anyone suggested that he get help, he would always refuse. And the worst part was, cleaning the house, and to realize what the disease took from this man, and how awful it make me feel to see his life end in this manner.

Bio: Glenda Barrett, a native of Hiawassee, Georgia is an artist, poet and writer. Her work has been published in numerous publications including Woman’s World, Country Woman, Farm & Ranch Journal, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Mary Jane’s Farm Journal and Journal of Kentucky Studies. Her Appalachian Artwork is on display at Fine Art of America.

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One thought on “The Worst Part

  1. Wow. This part, “remembering this man who claimed
    never to have a problem” really hit hard. Very vivid and sad. Great job.

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