“Speaking of Disinformation” by Rebecca Starks

Rebecca Starks


I am remembering for a friend
who grew up in a household
with an alcoholic father
whose illness was kept secret
from the kids, only the mom knew
why all the copies of the key
to the car trunk were broken off
but one, the one he kept with him—
I am remembering for her
how one day while the kids
watched cartoons on the couch
they found a half-empty
vodka bottle wedged between the cushions
and brought it to their mom,
not knowing what it was,
and how later that evening when
the father had them all stand
in front of the couch where he sat
on one cushion, their mom on the other,
hands folded in her lap, a cardboard
storage box resting on the crack
between them, and once everyone was still
proceeded to explain
that this bottle was a prize
he was meant to give out
at an awards ceremony, it had come
in this cardboard box, with its two
sets of flaps he opened
to demonstrate how it must have
slipped out and fallen between
the cushions, where some of it
evidently spilled and evaporated—
how the kids wouldn’t have remembered
beyond that day to this
except that it seemed so strange
and formal, the way he called
a press conference about it
when it was plain as day:
the box, the bottle, the crack
between the cushions.

from Poets Respond
November 24, 2020


Rebecca Starks: “I was trying to understand, on a smaller scale than national politics, how an obvious falsehood can seem obviously true to someone else, how it requires both active and passive participants, and how we can ignore for a long time the cognitive dissonance.” (web)

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