You say the first consultation is free. I say
I am fully aware of the nature of this transaction.
Let me ease your way, doctor, and preempt—
or is it paraphrase—your explanations. Let’s make
a game of it. Here are my words, balled and tossed
across the room for you to receive, reconfigure,
and return. Parrot back as question: Is this
the thing you feel? You tell me what its name is;
I’ll defer to your expertise, as is professional.
I know this is your way of proving to yourself
and to myself what you have heard—I am confirming
understanding. I hear the you that you are speaking here.
As if to say it takes years to train the ear to scalpel-
sharpness. As if to say it only takes ninety minutes
in your pastel-colored office to know this girl
down to her smallest sounds: ductile strands
of muscle snapping taut. Cross, uncross the arms,
square the shoulders high in fighting stance, guard
the heart, cover the jugular, drive steel into the spine.
Say it like this: Your nails are bitten down to the quick,
my dear. When was the last time you cried? Now take
another question: Are you asking for instances
I remember? Now take an honest answer: the night
I was born, and even then it had to be struck
from me. Listen: here is something that passes
for a joke. Now laugh.
Or, there’s no talking to you when you’re like this.