Desert Hope

I walk down polished hallways;

heels click, echo

down the corridor of doors

open to rooms filled with beds,

mattresses in vinyl.

People sweat,

puke, moan, shake

on bleached sheets

and institutional blankets.

Street people,

moms, dads,

Olympic gold medalists,

world champion athletes,

homeless people, movie stars,

somebody’s daughter or son,

wretch together,

all side by side in recliners or

vinyl covered beds at the detox.


I know their stories,

their STEPS,

failures, successes,

SMART recovery,

crisis plans.

I know everything about them,

and nothing at all.

It is my job

to ask the questions again

and again,

as many times

as they pass through

those front doors,

revolving pattern of relapse

and detox.


It is my job

to fill out the papers

while they vomit,


yell, cuss, cry.

It’s my job to care,

to find the next bed,

the next step after bottom.

I know how easy it is to get lost.

I know any one of us, them, me

is only one or two steps,

one or two bad choices,

wrong decisions

from this place,

from bottom.


I know how fragile life is.

I see them fall;

I catch them

I release them,

I catch them again.

I know the stories and

paths that lead down.

It’s my job

to create the maps

both to the bottom

and to the top again.

2015 copyright by Katie Pifer




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