In the waiting area, after Hello, silence;
we are tongue tied by the house rule
never to trespass on the personal, outside.
At 11, the psychotherapist shuts the door on:
cheery smiles donned with coats
for the chatty cashier at the co-op,
an animated I’m fine to family and friends
who roll their eyes at depression’s monotone .
"How is everyone this week?"
We stare at the carpet, examine our nails….
reluctant to appear too greedy;
until Amy’s eyes begin to drip tears -
after years of schizophrenic husband attaching
himself to her like a tag as she cleans , shops, pees…
vomiting has become her guilty pleasure.
Liz, relives tending daughter’s bruises,
her ‘Leave him’ parried with ‘Don’t start mum’;
striking the woman with the same paraplegic helplessness
as her six-year-old self
unable to get ‘father to stop.’
‘Room’ etiquette means we listen in trappist silence
to each other’s Alan Bennett monologues,
then offer only palliative words,
understanding that some lives are incurable.
12.30 the psychotherapist’s eyes flick to the wall clock.
We scatter with cheerful ‘Goodbyes’ and ‘See you next week’
like casual acquaintance from a Pilates class.
We slide up and down the scales
like nervous skaters.
Once again death
has positively discriminated against woman
so that twelve men
must do the heavy lifting in ‘Old Man River’.
At break, called up for tea duty,
an ex-teacher duo
red faced and glazed eyed
deal with temperamental urn and
requests for coffee.
In loose groups, couples on mouth watering
pensions share cruise ship stories
whilst Pearl and Pamela dote on grandchildren.
Showered with Good Byes and Have a good week,
it is as if I've spent the afternoon
in an Ealing film.
Homeward, I pass a young couple
in wax jackets walking Labradors,
my Hello ignored as they pass me.
Ladies who lunch
Wine has over rouged your cheeks.
Bouncing up, you must show me
why “Mathematics is truth”, on your iPhone.
Whilst behind a rictus grin
I try to calm my screaming thoughts
in the aftermath of the letter bomb that exploded
on my doormat earlier this morning;
which I do not mention because it is your birthday.