Sober Winter

Waiting on a slow line at dinner hour,
air hunger befalls me, symptomatic
of nothing less than a moral panic.
Life’s too short for gas station flowers
and boxed wine. But: How to be sober
in a winter darkened by pandemic? 
Strain the breath before it becomes tannic
and dry, lest it drive me to another

sip, and then another trip to market.
You’re about to turn the corner; vernal
equinox. My temperance incarnates 
as the Sun, to seduce me out the southern
exit. 2:37 AM, starlit.   
Between now and true spring is liminal.


Very often I practice self-love in ways that rely on the traditional trappings of romantic couple love (and capitalism). I buy myself flowers for a sense of ownership of beauty and youth, to boost my sexual desirability by proximity. I buy myself alcohol to disassociate pleasure from food, to fuel midnight cooking benders of my Best Hit Recipes for two. Then three days later, all that’s left are lily pollen stains on my light wood table, three-day-old chicken curry, and a continued lack of personal power.

The ability to recognize this is one of the surer signs that I am coming into a season of growth and recovery. I am ready to hear the call to action to love myself better and, most importantly, differently than I have been socialized to. I am ready to change my relationships with beauty, sex, relationships, food— and alcohol. Because for every self-critical, fear-based thought that my sober mind stirs up, there’s two for how to better live in my values, my most constant partner in self-love.

The thought to write and share this poem was one. To incarnate my value of creative self-expression as a resource for others’ consciousness raising and empowerment. Isn’t it ironic that I have depended on external validation (and consumption) for my own? I guess this one did feel cathartic. Not only is it about something currently topical and significant for me, but in a form that has challenged me for many years. If you have read this far, you might enjoy learning more about sonnets here.

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