therapy poem 3: macho

I dread moments

when clients make me a topic

preferring to listen, to walk along side

but he said

“you’re the only woman I know

who acts the way

I think

a woman

should act

you know

kind and caring”

for a moment I forgot

that I was at work

that I was a therapist

that I had filters

“everyone should act that way”

I stated matter-of-factly

we are trained to restrain

preferences, opinions, advice, commands

I am seldom so direct

his eyes widened

I repressed the instinct to smile uncomfortably

or apologize

but then

after a brief

–and interminable–


he agreed with me

I mentally exhaled

and he told me


about the gentle, kind, caring self

he kept hidden from the world

after the world hurt that person

and our work

finally began