Techniques Used In Therapy
Now that he no longer goes
To therapists, Kenneth
Has counted up and found
His totaled thirteen.
Of these, five had – after he was hooked,
Or nearly so – asked him a question
Which, when first he heard it, surprised:
“What are you getting from your misery?”
It took him awhile to see that, although they
Had each learned in training
To ask that question, it made sense.
He got it: as long as he believed
He saw himself as victim, there was the possibility,
Perhaps, of receiving attention, sympathy, pity,
And “I understand where you are coming from.”
Why, some of the therapists seemed to find
What he relayed of his childhood, interesting!
Plus, it gave him somewhere to go
Each week for fifty minutes, same chair to sit in –
So that for as long as he could afford it, why not?
But his thirteenth therapist told him
Something unusual. She remarked one Saturday in March
That Kenneth was handsome. And the way
She put it did not sound at all unprofessional,
It sounded simply true. Kenneth did like his profile.
Although he never actually studied his face in a mirror;
He believed it was not, taking all of its features
Into consideration, a bad face. The way he stood up tall
He was proud of. And the way he spoke
In a soft but manly voice, he felt good about.
Plus his hands: he had long thought they were those
Of a sensitive person. Two sessions later, Kenneth
Quit. He is not sorry he did. He is managing
Fairly well, and realizes he is. And he never tells
Anyone not to go to a therapist, for a therapist
May at some point state what a client needs to hear.
As Peter recalls it, the therapist queried “What do you need?”
And “What do you want?” – to which Peter answered
After disturbing moments of silence
“I don’t know that I can answer those questions.
I never asked to be born, so maybe . . .
I do not need anything and, as for wanting, I really
Am not sure how to respond to that.”
The therapist bristled. Rather short, somewhat overweight,
Slightly moon-faced with hair in bangs, she became excited
Like a hunting dog shaking water off its coat and tail,
And “Well,” she almost exploded, “I don’t know about you —
But as for me I definitely need, and want, a useful occupation
Which pays well, with benefits; a roomy house with front yard
And back garden; a partner I love who adores me in return;
Two, or possibly three, well-behaved children” and – stopping
Briefly to consider – “a Siamese cat. Female.”
By this, he was much distressed
Though he realized she might have been using a technique. But one more session – and Peter was out of there
The Orange Smile
One advantage of being a bachelor
Of a certain age
Is that in the morning when Byron slices
An orange, to eat it
As the beginning of breakfast,
He can slice it with a sturdy knife
Carefully, slowly, in order that the result
Will be equal segments neither too large
Nor too small. Byron enjoys doing that.
Then he may, having given it
No previous thought, do something
He has done before: pick up
A slice, simply open wide enough his mouth,
Position the crescent, rind-side out,
And let his upper and lower lip
Present it to the world
As a childish joke, a way of expressing
A lively attitude. Not childish, “childlike.”
In Old Age
When he was a boy, Stephen
Got good grades for “comportment.”
He begged to remain after three o’clock
To wipe the blackboard clean.
Happy to go outside
To knock dusty erasers against a tree,
Stephen pleased the teachers, if not
His fellow classmates.
Now that he is old, he increasingly
Desires to play truant from school
And not get caught.
But he wants
To be able to return if he wishes to.
Like a restless child confined to his desk,
Again and again he looks out the window.