He walks in with puffed sandbags covering his eyes
Like mine feel when I get out of a heavily chlorinated pool
Or after losing a fight.
I reach for the coffee and he hands me a cup before either one of us says hello
We both know we are here for the same thing
We both know without either one of us saying a word that we are sick, sick men who have done a lotta bad things to alotta good people
Who were probably only trying to help us
And I don’t have to ask him his story to know that’s why we make a 7 am meeting on a Saturday morning in July.
These rooms always feel the same
Like 40 sardines on shoddy aluminum chairs in a church basement
Too salty for a world that will just spit us out anyway.
These rooms always have the same
It is cardboard and coffee
It is waking up and boxing up the past
And you can see it in his eyes
The reluctant traveler
He refuses to open them
For the dawn is much too bright
And seeing the light is much too much
At this all too early hour of the day
And I ask him, how much time you got?
He glances past me at the clock.
Before he even has time to not reply
I can see it in the muscles of his cheeks
That he is not answering this question with sobriety
That he is opening up an empty box
Instead of himself
He is setting inside the fragmented remains of his pride
That have been shattered by too many times his drunken hand found his lovers face
By too many words there are just not enough apologies to erase
And not enough time in the day, to avoid them all
He is setting inside bottle after bottle on bottom after bottom
None of which was never enough
Not enough pain to drown out the histories of his life
One which he couldn’t stop writing into with all the care of a sailor on leave
He does not yet know that we choose to carry our burdens or nothing at all
And it is too heavy, it keeps spilling out
Every time you try to pick up the pieces
And I can see it in the shuddering muscles of his cheeks
And a shaking of a hand that starts behind the swollen lids of his closed off eyes
That he is taping and he is taping and he is trying to close the box again and again but it never stays
So I say
You got today, right?
Just like me.”
The forehead wrinkles holding his eyes closed unfurled and I saw the oceans he was hiding.
“I’ve never been anything but a drunk.
I don’t know what I am without it.”
My breathe collapsed the last levees holding back his oceans
And the simultaneous splashing of the two of us trying to come up for air can make for a lotta waves
But he steadies the pond and looks over at me for the first time today, and says,
“I know we both given a lotta grief in our time. I know we both asked for forgiveness from a god we don’t know how to name
on a lotta days that look a lot like
But, even if I don’t make it outta this world sober,
I’m gonna remember today. It’s all I got.”