Reverse Psychology


Do not think of white bears
The professor announced from the dais
Do not think of white bears
He opened his book his notes
Expecting explanation to emerge like a refrain
There was no refrain
Only an obsessive discussion of hand washing

Later on the iced overlook of
Niagara Falls mist dashed from
Stone layering the parking lot
With crystal he and I discussed
Obsession and I say her name
With tones of fishnets platform shoes
With tones of cocktail party respect
The professor asked
During the lecture
How many thought about the white bears
And all the arctic hands had shivered up

I say her name, hope pressed
In America’s dream colander
Machine and thighs thick as market meat
White bears growl across the ice flow
Dive into turbid water
Slivering salmon skin in their jaws

Does he think of her still
As I do among the breaking ice of spring
Does he whisper white bear growls
Time severs umbilical hopes
He is amniotic as is she
New thoughts fill the hollow

Icecaps melt and she washes her hands raw  
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