1) Clean the wrappers littered on your street from the New Year’s Eve fireworks; fill your trash can with a different family tradition. It will not be your father’s beer bottles, even if you’ve gotten used to their fierce rattling an instrument of their own.
2) Don’t hit your sister-- she is not your father’s truck; the scratches can’t be painted over.
3) Just because you’ve been abused, it doesn’t mean you should abuse back. These flyswatters of arms are yours and not your father’s-- Isn’t this how wars start?
4) Hold the family together with glue that won’t dry.
5) Put the knife back in the dishwasher. Your mother’s been looking for it. Put the cracked pill bottle back onto the medicine cabinet shelf. Take a deep breath in, and then a deep breath out. The ocean was built to swim in live to watch next year’s fireworks.
6) Do your chores on the weekends; let the dish soap run through your hands like your father’s violin strings; clean and fold the laundry; wash your clothes out until they’re wet. Isn’t that what you tried to do to your heart? Polish the mirror, then look back in the reflection at how brown your two blue eyes have gotten. Paint them blue.
7) Brush your teeth until they’re white, like your father’s piano keys.
8) Write a poem that your father doesn’t appear in.
9) In other words, don’t write. Throw away your notebook. Do not build a temple if there is no one inside it to worship. Do not sharpen arrows if it’s not hunting season.
10) live Let it be the one resolution you don’t break.
"As the year drew to a close, I began to reflect on the abuse I’ve brought into my household lately. I gave myself a chance to tear off bandages from the wounds I’d opened." --Jonah Henry from Alexander Hamilton Senior High School