“Ninety Days” was originally drafted, strangely enough, as a sonnet. It was intended to be part of a series of poems entitled “Pastoral #1,” “Pastoral #2,” and so on. The poem didn’t work as a sonnet, however, and I stepped away from the draft for about two years. When I returned to it, I saw that attempting to include “Ninety Days” in my pastoral series was limiting what the poem really wanted to be. It was about that time that I began to fully investigate the theme of sobriety through poetry. I kept some of the original images in the first stanza and cut the rest. The nautical images set the scene for the intersection of romance and addiction.
We’re standing at the ocean, a used sea-
shell peering nervously through your beehive.
Sunday trash blinks up at us through sandy
exoskeletons and footprints. It will strangle the seagulls
when they touch down to feed. Maybe in the dawn. Maybe in the dark.
Maybe the crabs will have gone home by then, tucked
in their pincers and blue blood.
Is the seagull nocturnal? I can never remember—
some poet!—but I remember the joke well:
What do you get when you cross a bird with a sting ray?
Beloved, this beach would wash your face out
if you were but one freckle less lovely.
When I showed up late to our first
date, I should have dropped to my knees
in the middle of that parking lot, rested
mismatched shoes on bird shit and magicked
my way to an instant one-year sobriety chip.
In this mythos, I am golden clean before
we wed. In actual fact, I am ninety days sober
seven years after the first blackout avalanche, and your eyes
startle me in the shock of the sun.
What do you get when you cross an alcoholic with a train?
At the water’s mouth, now, curled lip where the tectonic
motion sneaks toward our feet, I wonder
if you can hear my pulse. I cradle it in my swollen
coronary arteries, feel its echo in my bruised-for-two liver.
I wonder if you’ll believe me when I say, yes,
my pupils have always been this large.
Remi Recchia is a trans poet and essayist from Kalamazoo, Michigan. He is a Ph.D. candidate in English-Creative Writing at Oklahoma State University. He currently serves as an associate editor for the Cimarron Review and Reviews Editor for Gasher Journal. A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Remi’s work has appeared or will soon appear in World Literature Today, Best New Poets 2021, Columbia Online Journal, Harpur Palate, and Juked, among others. He holds an MFA in poetry from Bowling Green State University. Remi is the author of Quicksand/Stargazing (Cooper Dillon Books, 2021); his chapbook, Sober, is forthcoming with Red Bird Chapbooks in 2022.
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