Outpatient Clinic

Tissues, the box an arm’s length away
from the woman who talks about
her daughter, my client,

her many relapses, how she did well
for a time. I nod. Somewhere, a blast
of car horns. Outside my door,

men are here to paint the hallway.
“Jerry, get the ladder,” one shouts.
I shut them out, focus on the woman

telling about her daughter, my client,
who drove drunk again last night.
Blood alcohol three times the limit.

She wants the details right. Totaled.
Air lift. The mother reaches for a tissue.
Perhaps, later in the market,

she’ll pick through potted mums,
choose one not quite bloomed.
Or maybe this is how she’ll be,

her face now forever white
as tissues in her hands
held ’til session’s end,

dropped into a wastebasket
I’ll later carry out
to the world.

Irene Sherlock, a dual-licensed marriage-and-family therapist and alcohol-and-drug counselor, has a private practice in Danbury, CT.

About the Poem

“This is part of a collection of poems I’m writing about my work as a therapist.”


6 thoughts on “Outpatient Clinic”

  1. Powerful. Heartfelt. Touching. Helping loved ones cope through their loved ones addiction. Your poem says so much. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I just now. Found your poem. I read it and am writing this note.I was there with you and with your patient.
    I am ending my note as I want to go back and reread your poem. I am touched and want to go back and get more.

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