THE OLD THERAPISTS
by Shaune Bornholdt
The old therapists are two women
who can’t tell stories —
not even in private poems,
because the stories are private.
Part of the city has grown fat
from their feeding it,
or maybe just some people are not starving.
Maybe one boy has stopped cutting himself,
or a woman has finished writing her book,
or a man didn’t pull the plastic bag over his head.
The old therapists are hungry
because they can’t tell stories.
Once, they were friends,
but they quarreled.
It was politics, so it couldn’t be fixed.
It was long ago,
but don’t think they can ever
forget what it was about.
You don’t forget your politics.
The old therapists are lonely
because they feel so fat
with the story of “I miss you.”
They have not spoken to one another for years.
They have not even seen one another for years.
One day, across Amsterdam Avenue,
they see each other.
They don’t forget their politics
but all the old happiness
jumps up by accident.
One forgets her arthritis
and runs across the street
and damn near gets hit by a taxi.
Then it’s all,
“Oh! my God,” and kiss kiss
and “How are you?” And the
hugs and double cheeks,
and one says, “Let’s get coffee.”
But it’s a bar and grill,
where the college kids come.
The old therapists are so excited
remembering old good things
that they order Rob Roys.
The bartender says,
And it’s four in the afternoon,
so they order Earl Grey instead,
but the old therapist who doesn’t
have arthritis points a finger and says,
“How much for the maraschino cherries?”
He gives them a whole bowl
and gets them to a corner table fast.
The cherries are in a glass bowl
that the light from the street skips around in.
The cherries are beautiful, red and fat.
Their fat redness is bursting
right through their shiny skins.
They are juicy globes, fat little worlds
you can hold by the stem or squeeze
and lick or pop right in your mouth.
The old therapists pass the bowl
back and forth, back and forth.
Sometimes their fingers touch in the bowl.
Sometimes they plop a cherry in their tea
and one says, “Rob Roy!” They laugh.
The old therapists are not stupid.
They know about chemicals, and corn syrup
and Red Dye #4.
But the cherries are delicious.
The bar is filling up with college kids.
The light from the street is getting darker.
The old therapists sit and talk.
They sip their tea.
They eat the cherries.
They tell stories.
Copyright © 2016 by Shaune Bornholdt.