When it comes to issues,

they’ll tell you: better out than in.

In the counsellor’s room,

locked safe on the highest floor,

tissues frilled out of a box

where perhaps before me

someone had flailed


with a clumsy hand, seeking

sympathy, tugging Kleenex

as though they could plug it

the way cotton balls stuff

a tugged tooth.

It is like tugging teeth too,

this stripping yourself down

to the bones, sobbing striptease–

telling all–


like cutting a stuck bandage

to show him your stickiest wound,

this other human

almost understanding 

with a slow nod

and a green clipboard,

how despite myself 

I tell him things

you could not imagine,

not you, smiling over

your toast,

your oily fingers


rubbing newspaper corners,

humming to yourself,

oblivious as rain,

dabbing crumbs

with a wet thumb

as I measure cold milk,

suck on a dry spoon,

starving again–

before waving you off

with a frozen hand,

turning up here

in this secret room,

my slim void


hungry in my arms 

as a baby.


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