Shannon K. Winston: On Curing Anxiety

After Dean Young’s “New Restrictions”

It doeIt doesn’t matter how many therapists
you see or if you switch from espresso to decaf
to herbal tea, or if you drink chamomile
all day as you read self-help books
and The Art of Being Zen as if you could wipe
your mind clean like the dry erase board
you used to use when you taught
students who only half listened as they slumped
in their chairs, still dreaming of late-night
popcorn and beer and making out with someone
who might not even remember their name the day after,
and all you could think about was Hopper
and the way he painted loneliness in an off-white
that gutted you and made you want to blurt
out I just want to be loved, but that would be
sad and pathetic and your students would have
rolled their eyes and thought, God, don’t
let that happen to me, so what choice did you have
but to return to your yoga and hope that might calm
your mind and your hands that shake too
much, especially when holding fine appetizers
at social events where you feel like an 8th grader
at a middle school dance where you once swayed awkwardly
in clunky patent leather shoes and yellow
socks up to your knees because that’s what you found
that week at the thrift store (and well…that just had to do),
your father will never love you the way
you hoped he would, even after all these years.

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