This Weekend, I'm Five Years Sober
From now through Sunday, I'm going to post a Mary Karr poem a day. In celebration.
Limbo: Altered States
BY MARY KARR
No sooner does the plane angle up
than I cork off to dream a bomb blast:
A fireball roiling through the cabin in slo-mo,
seat blown loose from its bolts,
I hang weightless a nanosecond
in blue space
then jerk awake to ordered rows.
And there’s the silver liquor cart jangling
its thousand bells, the perfect doses
of juniper gin and oak-flavored scotch
held by a rose-nailed hand.
I don’t miss drinking, don’t miss
driving into shit with more molecular density
than myself, nor the Mission Impossible
reruns I sat before, nor the dead
space inside only alcohol could fill and then
not even. But I miss
the aftermath, the pure simplicity:
mouth parched, head hissing static.
How little I asked of myself then—to suck
the next breath, suffer the next heave, live
till cocktail hour when I could mix
the next sickness.
I locked the bathroom door, sat
on the closed commode, shirtless,
in filmy underpants telling myself that death
could fit my grasp and be staved off
while in the smeary shaving glass,
I practiced the stillness of a soul
For the real that swarmed beyond the door
I was pure scorn, dead center of my stone and starless
universe, orbited by no one. Novitiate obliterate, Saint
Absence, Duchess of Naught . . .
A stinging ether folded me in mist.
Sometimes landing the head's pressure’s enormous.
When my plane tilts down, houses grow large, streets
lose their clear geometry. The leafy earth soon fills my portal,
and in the gray graveyard of cars, a stick figure
becomes my son in royal blue cap flapping his arms
as if to rise. Thank god for our place
in this forest of forms, for the gravitas
that draws me back to him, and for how lightly
lightly I touch down.