“There has to be somebody sober
at AA meetings,” she insists, a woman
retired, widowed, beyond wish for a man.
“I’m Mrs. Sober, and I’ve been an alcoholic
for forty years,” she tells her people,
seven days a week, at meetings all over town.
It’s fall now, and she flings her
lint-flecked Irish walking cape
about her shoulders and pulls a seaman’s
cap down over cartilage-stretched ears.
From inner folds of her ample bag she digs a fist-sized
ring of keys that’s tethered to her purse strap
by clanging links of biker chain. Ka-Jang!
She’s on the move! Holy terror in low gear,
she will cruise to more than four dry and
“anonymous” bacchanalian covens today,
scaring the cloven-hooved of both sexes
and states in-between by sharing her stories,
embarrassments, alienation and rage.
Like her erstwhile students, many of the defiant
will poke fun at her. They’ll rile against her words,
sneer over her child bereft state, her isolation, accuse her
of senility/insanity and continue their ill-advised revelry.
Yet Riverside’s sprite of Erin, flaming with ire
and product of an old, banshee-wailing lore,
will persevere. She’ll wag bony fingers at them
for “falling off the wagon,” she’ll flash a twinkle of
the devil’s own recognition into their hazy eyes,
and infect their debauchery with mocking delirium,
with needling gall, with a dread of old English teachers,
and with the high, dry, smarter-than-you-ever-dreamed
cackle of impending doom: “You see, I am you!”