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by Natalie Jill
1. Lunar, 11:41 p.m.
Don’t I always see you this way, the color I leave behind? Your absence, amber. You are my darkness now. I hang in your sky, a luminous perimeter. I hover a moment: in front of the sun, I am your moon. 2. Solar, 1:27 p.m. You are my moon, in front of the sun. You hover a moment, a luminous perimeter. You hang in my sky. I am your darkness now— my absence amber, the color you leave behind. Do you always see me this way?
We talked about transference at school, I begin the session telling you, leaning back on your therapy couch. Transference and counter- transference. The professor didn’t talk about reactions: alchemy, combustion, reactions between you and me, the us of things. But apparently, your feelings about me are actually about someone else. School says that I dress you up as other people too, react to them, not you. Like I'm back in my childhood, my mother at the kitchen counter, me on my sick-day couch, plotting how to stay on that couch, home from school, tended by my mother’s soup, how do you feel? To which I'd say, not better yet. I could count on one hand the number of times she laughed with me. School says it's my mother I'm really mad at, every time you don't laugh back when I make a joke. As if there's no reaction, as if water only boils because it remembers other fire. You're reacting to me on your couch, me telling you we react to each other. You lean back, pick up your mug. Stare at me, let me talk. You know how I feel about school. Usually you do laugh as I tell you how I counter everything the professor said. Don't even get me started on counter- transference, I tell you. Why is it a different word when you do it, when you react to me like I'm someone else? You school me, the therapy couch under me. Because this is about you, you counter. My feelings here are the reaction back to yours. A reaction back. A reaction between? I'm backing into the cushion. Are we together, or apart? You're not laughing. Is this counter- transference? Fine, I guess I only transference-love you, and you only counter-love me. No reaction between us, no alchemy, no combustion, you in that chair, me on this couch. Just like they told me at school. I want to lie down on my sick-day couch, my reaction when my mother wouldn't laugh back. Not better yet. Could you tend to me – counter-want to – on this couch, after school?
Natalie Jill’s most recent work has appeared or is upcoming in Free State Review, Oakland Review, Atlanta Review, and Sugar House Review. She is a member of the PoemWorks community in the Boston area.