by Karen Liu

In some notion of therapy
you will travel your landscapes
tread furious your loops, and
unearth your desires.
That stain on the ceiling
might bear down like a demon
while I nod in the dimness
taking notes, saying little
so you come forward again,
that I may know you.

I might share with you how this all came about,
But perhaps I won’t.

In some notion of therapy
I’m all knobs and pulleys
you don’t have to get to know me
just my effects and their causes
my wins and my losses
we’ll fix this in five visits
tweak the hardware
adjust the program
and if it doesn’t work, well
you must be very attached to that story.

So stop it now,
Because I’m telling you.


I have many notions of therapy
that emerge between listening and wondering
all the truths that arise and recede
the empty places, that one rushes to fill

And we’re both in this, you and I
We tiptoe in respectfully and ask the dead to dance
We slam our fists down and say,
    “What’s wrong with this fucking world, anyway?”
I share with you an image, you give voices to your fear
We don’t often know where we’re going,
yet it’s clear when we arrive.


Clear why I bring myself here
Why I risk your witness
when it’s easier to be alone
How I get tired of making things better
so I just let myself get worse
How change may happen in some background process
while I’m thinking and speaking and running my errands
Until one day I’m not doing that thing anymore
in that situation
when I often did.

What we did was shine a light on it
a light on me
you and I

What we did was bumble around in the darkness
until that moment
        when I could feel myself

Karen Liu is a Marriage and Family Therapy Intern with a practice in Noe Valley and the Fillmore, in San Francisco. She works with adults, adolescents, and children in primarily gestalt, art, and sandplay modalities.