Therapy feels like wet clay, verda?

On hot skin

I see a girl in my neighborhood cycle past

she’s around 12, her legs thin and long like a colts

stringy hair and teeth too big for her mouth

riding up the hill, as if the sun isn’t hot and

she’s got the world by the balls

I sit in my comfortable chair, watching my client

who fidgets with the many rings on her fingers

she wants to say things, she can’t yet say out loud

she tells me, most therapists don’t care, worth a damn

only pick up the check

a little like my first husband, she smirks

a little like everyone, I think

I recall being young and riding up hills

before feeling old before your time, because your body betrays you

of what we lose, when we don’t have time to notice

because we’re doing our own version of trying to surmount hills

my client is losing her marriage, and she’s relieved

she wants to begin over, peal her skin off, molt and take wing

I urge her to find the courage

of the 12 year old

to keep going, even when hard sun pelts down

and you think you can’t take another rebuff

she’s got a beautiful smile, her husband stopped noticing years ago

it felt like a wound in her psyche, a knife sticking out of her chest

as she walked to get coffee at the corner, in the mornings

sometimes I would wonder, why no-one commented on

the woman walking around, with the knife in her chest, she said

I think of how many of us exist, with giant gaping wounds

either unnoticed by others, or disguised, out of misplaced shame

I think of how, sometimes, I reach out

with feeling in my eyes and they turn away

I don’t know whether it’s out of fear, or apathy

if they have grown skin over their heart muscle

and it’s no longer able to respond, to translate

warmth into affection and back again.

This world is a cold world, she says

I remind her, to start with herself

be what you want to experience, I say

wondering if that actually ever works

if it’s just another version of; practice what you preach

told by clergy who sodomized children

this ceaseless hypocrisy of what we want, versus the rules we impose

how many times I have tried to get close to someone

only to regret the effort, the futility of rebuke

another cold shoulder in a disaffected world

but if we don’t try, we have even less

my grandmother would tell me

and nothing comes from nothing

what did she wish for?

I wish for hope, to hope for … something again

to believe it’s not over yet

dispel disappointment a few hours and

dive into cream.

I tell my client to keep going forward

like she has any choice, like any of us do

because we’re all just a work in progress

even if they say potential isn’t applicable after 30

those of us who think we aren’t imperfect

floundering fish out of water, trying to find the sea

they’re probably the ones with cold eyes

who turn away when she smiles

when she looks like the 12 year old girl again

with a gap in her front teeth and reddened cheeks

who hasn’t met her disinterested husband yet

and believes in potential and futures

not those cold eyed people, who turn away when she cries

because it’s easier than giving a damn

which can be hard, especially on days

you don’t have any good answers

but still

still, you damn well


to eek some empathy

from the gristle of your soul

or else from

the glimmer of

metal, showing through

your bloodless blouse

14 Replies to “The woman walking around, with the knife in her chest,”

  1. As long as we choose, we continue to have the potential for the infinite. Age is not the defining factor.

  2. I always feel as if the row is a long one to hoe for many of us . . . Are we really strong enough to exert that much energy? I hope your client is.

    I felt this poem, maybe a little too much.

  3. When we allow ourselves to be conscious of the knife in our own chest, it becomes impossible not to see the ones in others (and the reverse may be just as true). Then courage is called to recognize the essence, that it is all one knife and one chest, the root of compassion, to feel and act, and to let them see ours.

  4. I love the hard-won wisdom in this Candice. There are so many days when good answers fail to materialise, and all that remains is the determination to put one foot in front of another. Please keep tapping into your muse.

  5. Dear Kevin, thank you so much. I like the idea of ‘hard won wisdom’ very much !! Thank you dear one xo

  6. We do! I think you have it! That and the amazing hair – yup – covered in WIN

  7. I appreciate you more than mere words can convey –

  8. and I happen to agree with you 100 percent my friend

  9. I hope I spelt it right. Although my english spelling is not as bad as my french. πŸ˜‰

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