Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



My Psychotherapist is Lying on the Couch

My psychotherapist is lying on the couch.
He has a bad back. Brought on by cancer,
brought on by having to deal with people like me.
But that's not what he says. That's what I surmise.
I'm listening to the tick of the mantle clock in the twilight
of a Tuesday afternoon in February. The 6th to be precise.
I suppose I should say something. Every minute is another $.

And it's lost forever. Maybe I should talk about that,
maybe it will start me on all the other things I've lost,
which is why I'm here. But I never really wanted that $,
unlike all the other things I've broken or lost
which my psychotherapist wants me to mend or find
as he lies on the couch in his consulting room,
surely thinking: another minute, another $ for me.

I could ask politely: How's your back today?
but he'd just wave my concern away and say:
Let's talk about you, that's what we're here for.
And I've gone a blank. That's my problem. So I say:
Now I've gone all blank. He stirs and says,
"You're not blank. You're numb. That's understandable."
Thanks. That thought alone is worth another $.

He carefully levers himself upright on the couch,
leans forward, pushes his spectacles back on his nose,
peers at me intensely. And then it pours out from me -
how I become the letter 'h' sitting upright in a chair
waiting for the letter 't' to step up behind and point a dagger
while the letter 'e' comes to curl up like a kitten at my feet
and only then can I become a 'the'. He smiles brightly...

"Now we're getting somewhere," he says. Which is why
he's called a psychotherapist and I'm only a poet.
Maybe I'll send this to him. Maybe when he gets it
he'll forget his pain. Maybe next time I'll be on the couch.
Or maybe he'll cancel my appointment, give up on me,
refer me to someone better qualified to deal with all this,
someone who loves reading poems and won't charge me a ¢.

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