By Megan Pinto

O perilous night, O
                                    darkening sky:

You smell coffee, and the skin below your blouse                       burns.
You know you’ve hit rock bottom when
it’s Friday night, again
and here you are, in a church basement, holding tight a stranger’s hand.

In your new life, you say things like Hi, my name is                     and

thank you for your                              and

what I’m trying to say is                      and. . .

You’ve always been a good student. You recite the 12 steps under your breath.

Outside, it is night: lights flood the sky, the stars
tonight are just thumbtacks. You pinned
small notes to your fridge reminding you
to do this,
                                                      searching out the eyes
                                                                                                          of strange men in the street.

You like the women’s groups best.
(In the women’s groups, you think about sex less.)

It was an angel who struck the dagger
from Abraham’s hand, and you imagine her awash
with the kind of light that stars cast
in the jungle, like how once you slept
in a hammock
                                       your backpack         a pillow
                                       your hammock        a blanket
                                                                                              and it was enough:
                                                                                               a kind of light like that.

Tonight, you were stuck on the train between an ad
for cancer care and Klimt, peering out
at the darkening sky. Even the tortured body
was beautiful in this light, tonight
there was only the quiet, falling
snow, and a man
nearing sleep
reaching for his bagged beer can.

Kierkegaard says to love God without faith is to see
only the self, and you think                        of the hospital across the street.
All night, Mt. Sinai will sit quietly, its fluorescent hallways marked
by every human grief—someone
crying in a lobby chair, someone
reciting childhood prayers.
                                               Will God draw close 
                                                                                           if you call?

Tonight, another party. You hide in the bathroom stall. You are

                thirsty, so you bring
                                       water to your lips,

                      you are careful
                                               and still, water

                                                                                     keeps falling through your hands. 

Originally Published in The Common’s December 2019 Poetry feature. Reprinted with the permission of the author.