My student sits in the armchair facing mine.
He seems to listen raptly as I babble on,
losing control of my syntax: my words
spool forth, but lose their interconnections,
as with rising dismay I realize
I have no idea what I’m talking about.
No, that’s not quite true: I have an idea,
a good one, but as I start to speak,
it goes out of alignment—it forks in two, and then
the forks fork, and I think of the two roads
diverging in a yellow wood, and the old trickster
who slyly let on that you couldn’t tell them apart,
meaning, I suppose, that we kid ourselves
if we think we know what we’re doing
when we choose one path over another,
which I realize I am actually saying aloud
to my student, who clearly hasn’t a clue
who the old trickster is, or why I am talking about him,
or what the hell point I am trying to make,
when all at once I remember sitting across
from my old mentor, long since dead,
who had mumbled with smug incomprehensibility
what I assumed, because of his advanced age,
were profound and timeless revelations
(though in fact he was twenty-five years younger
than I am today). Wouldn’t you think that by now
I had realized that I had hopelessly confused
the poor kid, and that I would have the sense
not to add my irrelevant memories
of that disagreeable pontificator?
Wrong. I’m off on a new tangent, complaining
of ancient trauma the old coot had inflicted on me,
the same I am surely inflicting at this very moment
on the polite young man who sits across from me,
respectful and demure, deftly concealing
any private thoughts he must be having
about the deteriorating mentation
of the well-meaning, logorrheic, pompous
old gentleman happily blathering away.
My poetry book, Singing With Starlings, was published by Antrim House (2015), and several of my poems have been featured in the Hartford Courant. I frequently attend monthly chapter meetings of the Connecticut Poetry Society and meet with other poetry organizations throughout Connecticut. I am a graduate of Harvard University and Yale University. Throughout my life I’ve run twenty marathons, sung various baritone roles in numerous operas, and rowed in the Head of the Charles Regatta along with other prominent regattas. I currently work as a psychiatrist with a continuous private practice since 1967.
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