Sally O’Dowd is the author of the poetry collection Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Other Tales of Love and Loss.

She wakes up, cold,
in the sterile room.
The doctors are trying
to fix her.

*

Her mind is blown out,
where she was yesterday,
and the day before,
a surreal place:
If a star falls in the sea,
Does it swim?

*

Lying there,
this time in the dark.
Alone with damage
that pelts like a dripping faucet
you can still hear
after slamming the bathroom
door shut.

*

Orders eclipse solitude.
Stand up.
Detox.
Go to group.

*

All she’s got is time,
which like a lot of things in life —
sex, rain, childhood —
can be your friend
or your enemy.

*

Doubt rivals hope.
To the right — uneaten lunch,
to the left — a wall,
and in the center,
memories of friends
who didn’t stick around long enough
for hospital bracelets.

About this work: I wrote a poem, Wounded Bird, when I was 25 and suffering from depression. After I read it to friends at a bar, I burned the edges of the paper with a lighter.

Earlier this year, as I set out to write my poetry series, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Other Tales of Love and Loss, I looked for the paper and found it in a box in my closet. Around that time I attended a photography auction held by The Newswomen’s Club of New York. I was the highest bidder for this photo, taken by Erin Mulvehill. Her subject is sinking, vulnerable—feelings I wanted to explore as I continued my project.

I had no idea that extensive edits would result in a story about recovery. My words and this photo capture what I imagine a recovering addict might feel. More information on the artist can be found at icanfreezetime.com.

Recovery is a poem in my collection Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Other Tales of Love and Loss. It was originally published on Medium.

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