Every other month, in this room
the most recently convicted drunk drivers and underaged drinkers
gather, sitting in every other chair, silent, staring down
at first, then at us, hard, cold.
We take turns, telling our stories,
the stories we’ve told time and again in this room
every other month, most of us for ten, fifteen years.
We know each other’s stories by heart, word for word
tear by tear, death by death, nightmare by nightmare
and yet, each time I hear the stories
the knot in my stomach is still there.
One speaker always speaks second, telling, again
how her brother took a week to die, after the drunk
driver slammed into him, spinning him over the highway,
and how she still wakes up, crying ---
telling her husband she dreamt her brother was killed,
and the husband has to tell her, again, its true.
Most of the drunks walk out, averting their eyes, seemingly
indifferent to our various tales of drunks and how they
change our lives and the lives of so many others---
but, a few make contact, a few shed a tear or two, and
shake our hands, telling us they hear the pain, and want to change.
I hope they do, but the last names on the roster are always the same
and the room fills up, every time we meet, every time
we tell our stories, again, and again,
every other month.
--Neal Lemery 2/2010