Poem of the Month
Group Therapy

By Rebecca Pǎpucaru

Published on February 8, 2018

Each of us, in turn, has to answer, in one word,
the question: What are you feeling?

In December no less, when it gets dark at four
and this classroom’s been double-booked.

Another band of politicized marginals
prowls restless in the corridor

while we sit in the folding-chair circle, weighing
raw responses to What are you feeling?

No time for tracts or tea, or even free tampons.
No time for support; just our word.

Okay, says the first; Fine, says the second.
But soon, sidestepping the common:

Flat; Round; Spiky; Vulvar; and best of all, Orange.
Gurgles of laughter, like water

from a forgotten hose. Raised to please, be placid,
unseen, untroublesome, we view jokes

as propitiation. Orange is legit.
Pierced by cloves, a Saint Sebastian sacrificed

to a fomenting stock. A kitchen Molotov cocktail.
Christmas gift from simpler times? No time,

no time for metaphors. The facilitator submits
her word, Proud, and an injunction to spread

the word. We put on coats, make metallic
small talk, our words bottle caps scrounged

from a fountain. Dispersal is never simple.
Fraternizing outside the confines of our group,

while not forbidden, feels profane. Even those
conjoined by a subway ride soon fall in, approach

the station in patchwork single file, POWs
allowed one last smoke. My penance:

I once encountered our facilitator at Loblaws.
Her face, breached, out of context, over

a knoll of unseasonal lychees. Not a smile
or nod. I turned as if prodded toward

the bakery aisle, a family-sized tub of croutons
to reflect on. At each meeting, I debate broaching

the matter, requesting some doctrine. The world
outside is where we blaspheme, starting with our dreams

of each other. Tell Margaret I dreamt of her walking
in Paris. What happened to your cane? I asked.

No answer. I walk home, playing hangman
with the one word for what I am feeling.

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