by Donika Ross Kelly
The woman you love is afraid she is hurting you.
This is the source of her fear. You are afraid
to say, I am hurting. You are crying.
You are afraid your parents will discover
that you are crying, again, and send you, again, to therapy
where a woman with long hair and a long skirt
will point to the dollhouse and ask where the mother doll sleeps.
And the father. And, if they have a child, where the child
doll sleeps. You have been in therapy your entire adult life.
You speak in therapy. Every statement begins,
I feel—, even when you mean, why are you hurting me?
You’d rather be a simpler animal.
You try to imagine what the bear feels.
The seal. The otter. Always a little group of three.
You worry they are not, in fact, simpler, but you are sure
they are never lonely. You hate your loneliness
as you hated yourself as a child. You are bored
with your hatred. You want her to stop hurting you.
You want to say, I love you, again and again.
This will change nothing. And, you’ve already said it.
When you were a child in therapy, you understood
where each doll went. You learned not to cry.
There is no teacher now to tell your parents,
and anyway, your mother doesn’t remember you,
and you are settling into hating your father,
though, you are afraid you are as careless and cruel
as they taught you to be. You will see your therapist
in two weeks. Her hair is short and she is from the same city
as the woman you love. You will tell her you are sad
and hurting. You will be matter of fact. You will think
of the seal, a mother perhaps, how she might be lonely
for a lost pup. But there will be another, and she will forget
the one that was eaten by an orca or polar bear or neglect.
You will tell your therapist none of this.
You will no longer speak to the woman who has your heart.
You will put her in the room farthest away from your own.
She will sleep where the father should be.