Outside my therapist’s office, three men are planting ferns,
pruning bushes, cutting back the tangled vines
that twine across the building’s bricks, covering them in green,
and when I reach the door one of them has risen,
and nods his head, and it seems a nod that verges
on pity, as if he’s seeing
into the room I’ll enter to empty myself of grief
and wants to offer
one gesture before turning back to the roses,
a projection I should share
but never will. Inside, I settle
in the chair across from her, the woman
I see each week despite my fear of being seen.
Have you thought over,
she asks, what we talked about last time? She’s trying
to get me to forgive
myself. She wants to free me
of the song
I play over and over
in my mind, which governs
every part of me: nerves,
myself my sins:
Clear, dry gin.
The man I loved (my roving
heart). The fringes
that I occupied. My father
in his hospital bed and I
too late. What severing
it must take to let this go.
And now she says, moving a little closer to the edge
of her chair, really seeing
wanting to, I had a patient once,
in a place far from here, who,
in the impenetrable fog
of her disorders, and guided by some sick version
of herself, killed her three little sons.
And when she came
to see me, after the fever
of her sin
had burned the memory to fine
dust, she didn’t even
know what she had done.
And I had to decide—do I
tell her what she did? And now an ambulance goes
by outside. I follow the noise
of its thin siren
dragging itself down the street until it’s gone,
and those men, I suppose, are finishing
their work, satisfied by having given
life to that garden, and the garden, content
in being tended to, everything green
to bloom. She says:
I didn’t tell her.
Chelsea Bunn called us from Albuquerque, NM.
Previously appeared in The Big Windows Review:
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