The Workshop

Published in The Broad River Review (2018)


Somewhere, outside, beyond the long narrow tables, and
pitchers of ice water, and chandeliers and heavy double doors,
her voice rising and falling, telling us to be aware of our breath,
I think a school of dolphins is passing by, and I breathe,
and notice a dull ache for the first time in my lower jaw and
wonder if bone cancer feels the same as a cavity,
until her voice pulls me back into the windowless room,
where she is saying, imagine if on the day you were born,
you were given a car, and told it is the only car you will ever have,
imagine how well you would care for that car, and
I understand her point as I listen to the practiced serenity of her voice,
look at her lithe, well-cared for body, and shift in my seat,
feeling the weight of my body hold me to the chair,
and she tells us to close our eyes, a hundred people with our eyes closed,
which, oddly, makes me feel watched and self-conscious,
as if she had asked us to undress or tell a secret, and
I wonder whether I am holding my breath, and think about wind,
and how it makes white caps on the waves just out of sight, and
she tells us time is divided into focus and distraction, and
she tells us about listening, and I try to hear the ocean
through the heavy doors, and she gives us all egg timers
and divides us into groups of three, and tells us to take turns talking,
three minutes each, while the others must listen
without interruption or interjection,
without relating or adding or comparing, and it is a good idea,
except that instead of listening, I am thinking about what I will say
when it is my turn, wonder if I should mention the dolphins.