Poem Therapy: Telling - Elisabeth Frost

Elisabeth Frost

They keep telling me why I do what I do. I do it so that one day
someone will do for me what I'm doing for her. They're saying, then,
that my motivation is to be, down the line, the recipient of the
doing. According to their logic, I buy her the Times and irises for the
bed table, renew the nitroglycerin and Cardia, throw in the
chocolate that isn't allowed, and, back home, scour the tub, scrub
the toilet—I do these things in order to have them done for me, if
not by her, who can't do them (let's be honest), then, second best,
by someone else. They say that's the reason I study so closely her
happiness, her lack of happiness. And their gentleness in the
telling, the lowered chin and eyes, the slow enunciation, the hand
reaching toward my wrist—it all tells me that things won't end
where I think they will, that what I do isn't like a mitral valve (thrust
open, clamp shut), an act without volition, but is, like the refusal
finally to turn away, something chosen, which may or may not do
anything like what one hopes it will.
Could be the heart won't let itself do what the head knows is best.
Could be that what you do isn't about what you want done for yourself.
Could be it is just doing what has to be done, right at that moment.

Perhaps out of obligation. Perhaps out of the knowledge there is no one else to do it. Perhaps from the same impulse that drives you to right a bee spinning on its back, or to throw a stranded crustacean back into the ocean.

It is difficult to turn your back, even on an enemy.

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