Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2020  Vol. 19 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The prospective therapist is a Vietnam vet, I’ve been told. He texted the wrong office; the office he gave me doesn’t exist. I see him exiting the bathroom in the hall. We shake hands. He’s like a sickly snowy owl. Military patches on his leather bomber, a stained Navajo rug in his office where he asks if I’m aware that OCD is really anger and immediately I’m angry. He notes this. “How does that make you feel, what I said?” Instead I say honestly I’m concerned “you might be too old-fashioned.” He shrugs. “It’s what I believe.” He would like to seem meek and wry, humanistic. But he’s condescendingly uncomplicated. Confused and confusing. I wonder, can he hear me? He stares at me. He warns me that we’ll need to be a team, he and I. He’s had a melanoma removed recently, and on the way out walking me toward the elevator he says he’s been diagnosed with prostate. Just the other day. “They caught it early.” And I find myself comforting him: “It happens to everybody eventually.” I won’t be back. He asks me to let him know either way because otherwise “I’ll be thinking about you,” and I think that’s at least part of the problem here. Like the Russian acupuncturist who told me, just weeks after my first surgery, thirty pounds lighter, a catheter scraping my bladder like a melon baller, that my cancer was caused by “holding onto anger.” How angry I was at her for saying that! How angry I am at those who think they know; who are in truth afraid. My father the last time I saw him, twelve years ago now, shouting in broad daylight at me: “You have a problem with anger!”  

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