What My Massage Therapist Girlfriend Discovers When I’m On Her Table For the First Time

By Robert Wilder

Featured art: ‘Avocado’ (1916) by Amada Almira Newton

Your right leg is shorter than your left.
There’s something funny happening in your left shoulder.
You should change your detergent and go fragrance-free.
Is this too much pressure?

You once had a girlfriend who threw bottles at your head.
You haven’t slept well in decades.
You store all the grief for your dead mother in your solar plexus.
Breathe.

You grind your teeth.
You have the musical tastes of a seventeen-year-old girl.
There’s tension in your neck which runs down your left side.
No one believes that you are not attracted to Rebecca.

Does this hurt?
Let me stretch you out a bit more.

For someone with such little flexibility, you have a surprisingly good vertical.
You’ve wounded more people than you’re willing to admit.
Your father will die soon and you’ll have no clue where to turn.
You and your brothers will drift apart.
Sorry about that. Just trying to break it up.

Nothing will get easier for a long time.
You loved the bottle thrower something fierce.
You can’t hear your mother’s voice anymore.
Turn on your side, please.

You still love the sun sneaking through cracked windows.
You have a closet full of clothes that no longer fit.
Holding your breath won’t help either of us.
There you are.


Robert Wilder is the author of a novel, NICKEL, and two critically acclaimed essay collections, Tales From The Teachers’ Lounge and Daddy Needs A Drink. He has earned numerous awards and fellowships, including the inaugural Innovations in Reading Prize from the National Book Foundation. He has published essays in Newsweek, Details, Salon, Parenting, Creative Nonfiction, and numerous anthologies, and he has been a commentator for NPR’s Morning Edition. Wilder lives in Santa Fe. You can find him online at http://www.robertwilder.com.

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