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Her Addiction: a poem by Mary Sexson

Her Addiction
by Mary Sexson


You laid down the needle,
and took up your life again,
only looking back to count
the reasons you had lived.
Your boy beside you each day
is enough, you said.
So we all walk forward
a few steps, holding
our breath to see if this
can last, or will some terrible
pull breach the dike and drag
you back into the wash?

You say you have your own God,
one the books don’t talk about,
one who is privy to your fears
and secrets. But this God
doesn’t punish, or hold you
down with guilt. And so I,
in my faithlessness, call him
to me, render my recompense,
and barter for my debt.

Back Into the Fray

One hundred days did not
give you the clarity you sought,

nor did it remove any obstacles
from your path. It merely proved

to be a short respite, for all of us,
from the relentless grind

of your addiction. We laid our heads
down, collectively, and slept

a dreamless sleep, and woke to find
you gone again, back into the fray

of your life, your own war zone,
the bombs falling all around you.

Rewriting the Script

I dreamed I was writing poems
about you, last night, you burning
in the fire of your addiction,
tied to the hopelessness of it
as if you’d already made the agreement
to ride this thing to the end,
no matter what, and then I
was frantically editing these poems,
moving your hopelessness off
the page, inserting courage
and a resilient spirit, you
saving yourself over and over.

In my dream you kept resisting
my rewrites, changing the script
back to lost and broken, the vehicle
that is your life crashed to the side
of the road, with no survivors, but I
wrote you back in, crawling
from that wreckage,
a strong sponsor answering
your last cell phone call for help.
People from a nearby meeting gather
and lift you off the road, take you
back to their meeting and hold you
until the bleeding stops. In my dreams
you live, every single time.

Bio: Mary Sexson is the author of 103 in the Light, Selected Poems 1996-2000 (Restoration Press), and co-author of Company of Women, New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press). Her poems have appeared in Flying Island, Tipton Poetry Journal, Grasslands Review, New Verse News, Trip of a Lifetime, Ichabod’s Sketchbook IV, Sustainable Indiana, the Shared Spaces/Shared Voices project, and several anthologies, including Reckless Writing (2013), A Few Good Words (2013), The Best of Flying Island (2015), and Words and Other Wild Things (2016). Her newest work is in HoosierLit Literary Magazine (The Geeky Press), Flying Island, and Tipton Poetry Journal (Brick Street Poetry). She has two Pushcart Prize nominations.