A Former Patient Returns by Janet Ruth Heller

A Former Patient Returns

Like an alumna to her college,
I return to your office
after five years
for more therapy,
check for changes
in your face, your voice,
your wardrobe.

You seem the same.
We two women
resume our journey.

But I stare at my own body, hear
my voice from a distance
like an echo across a canyon.


Janet Ruth Heller is the past president of the Michigan College English Association and a past president of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature. She has a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago. Heller has published four poetry books: Nature’s Olympics (Wipf and Stock, 2021), Exodus (WordTech Editions, 2014), Folk Concert: Changing Times (Anaphora Literary Press, 2012), and Traffic Stop (Finishing Line Press, 2011); a scholarly book, Coleridge, Lamb, Hazlitt, and the Reader of Drama (University of Missouri Press, 1990); a middle-grade fiction chapter book for children, The Passover Surprise (Fictive Press, 2015, 2016); and a fiction picture book for children about bullying, How the Moon Regained Her Shape (Arbordale, 2006; 7th edition 2022), that has won four national awards, including a Children’s Choices award. Her website is https://www.janetruthheller.com