Liquid manna in a glass. Hints of green apple
or lemon zest, clover honey or grapefruit,
I admit I miss it. I was a lousy drunk, though.
I had no stomach for the morning after
and refused to chase horror with another
round. I feel bad for those guys holding
their sign pan-handling for money across
from the liquor store, wanting to get enough
money together to buy a Tall boy, or a cheap
bottle of red. They are like living shipwrecks.
The flotsam of their life usually a couple of
bags strewn around them. Maybe a black lab
on a rope leash. Their dedication to suffering
is complete. Recovery is a violent wind, what
buffets against an individual, and you have
to stand it every day, as it shakes and clangs
the cracked iron bell of your heart. Sobriety
is an awakening, and a theft. A dividing
line between then and now. Guilt wringing
out the spirit, or the spirit wringing out
guilt. Fatalism needs to be folded carefully
into a drawer. Most days, I study my face
like a lost and found to see what has changed.
When people fiddle with their wine-glasses,
it makes me uncomfortable. The not drinking
makes life all the more poignant, and hard.
It frees you from a certain kind of pain, but
leaves you isolated and bereft if you let it.
I used to hold a glass of chardonnay carefully
up to the light to note its colour and age.
It is much harder to do that with oneself.
Throw away the tasting notes. Interpret
the qualities of every day on your own,
love, loss, smells, taste, silence, seasons,
for this is your job now. This is your task.
By Chris Banks