Three Poems by Joan Mazza

Waiting for the Doctor

Always late, he expected me to wait,
ready for the session’s start,
for me to take off my shoes,
lie down, not to complain or be angry
with him for keeping me waiting

for thirty or forty minutes, an hour,
sometimes two. I always arrive
early, never wanted to keep others
waiting for me. I don’t like
to feel rushed, prefer to allow time

for traffic, trouble, unexpected delays.
I waited in my car outside his house,
counted minutes. In the basement
of his house, I waited, in an area designed
for waiting, mesmerized by three giant

goldfish swimming in his giant tank.
If I was late, I lost that session’s time.
How long is too long to wait for someone
when you have an appointment? What
if he misses your scheduled time or

doesn’t show? If he never offers to
makeup time, he’s teaching you:
Your time doesn’t count. He’s the doctor.
He had important things that made
him late. I had a husband and a dog

waiting for me at home. I’d worked
a full day, had driven forty minutes,
hadn’t made or eaten dinner. I waited.
In charge, my analyst, my God decreed,
You have nothing to be angry about.


Tailored, Emerald Green

After Microbiology all day in Miami,
into the night I cut and sewed, hand-
stitched bound buttonholes, covered
buttons, lined the jacket in the same bold
silky fabric as the turtleneck blouse,

a suit that fit me loose enough to flow,
cuffs swaying with my walk, bright green
as the forest I longed for all those years
toiling in Florida. I waltz into my session
aglow, proud of my effort and outcome,
so well completed after a long hiatus
from my sewing machine.

My psychiatrist scowls at my twirl.
Why are you wearing that?
I made it. My voice shakes.
You’re all covered up! It’s a tent!

And so we spend another session
on his interpretation, his certainty
of my need to hide my body
up to my chin, my wearing pants,
not skirts. Proof of my hang-ups
and fears, proof of how much
more therapy I need with him.


What did you learn from your therapist?

All my friends were psychopaths
as were the men I dated, no matter if
I met them in church or bars. I was easily

manipulated into paying half, cooking
for men who wouldn’t take me out, only
wanted to get laid. (Didn’t I want sex too?)

Look how gullible and trusting I was
of all the wrong people. How grateful
I should be for his guidance, for teaching

to set limits, to say no, but not to him. When
I protested when he was two hours late
for a session, hours late for dinner, when

he asked to borrow money, when he mocked
my hand-tailored clothes, my haircut, he said,
You have no reason to be angry.

Too gullible and trusting of all the wrong
people, people took advantage. Couldn’t
I see who was being helpful?


Joan Mazza worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, and taught workshops on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self. Her poetry has appeared in The Comstock Review (forthcoming), Valparaiso Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Adanna Literary Journal, Poet Lore, and The Nation. She stays safely isolated in solitude in rural central Virginia.

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