On Being Sober Five Years
This morning the world is covered in dust—
thin curtain of yellowish resin settling on everything.
I see it falling to the earth in the shadows
of the hundred-year-old oak across the street,
I see it everywhere as I pedal my bike to work,
dust hanging in between houses and spilling
onto front yards. It looks as if someone applied
one of those filters, the kind that makes photographs
look vintage or a little more worn. How concerned
should we all be with false spring? Birds arriving
ready to eat and breed, only the plants are long gone.
Do we not dance anyway, giddy, in spite of ourselves?
I wonder if knowing better matters in the end,
but this isn’t the end—here’s a cardinal,
here’s a man sanding the hood of a rusted out convertible
in front of his storage space. Here’s the copper yard
where three dogs used to be chained outside
in a circular fence with one dog shack for shelter.
How I hated their bitter chorus of barking, but today
is silent and I tell myself they aren’t dead, only rescued.
Who doesn’t feel regret or shame about the past?
Here’s spring, here’s my birthday, here’s to another year
and another in which I wake up and see more
of myself than I sometimes care to. I lock
my bike to a metal handrail and blink back focus—
and when I say the dust disappears, which is exactly
like recognizing forgiveness—I know I am here.
Sarah McCall worked for many years as both English teacher and bartender, and is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at Old Dominion University. Her work has appeared in various journals including Whurk, Barely South Review, Jet Fuel Review, Cargo Literary, and Fields Magazine. She and her husband and their two dogs live in Norfolk, VA.