Women in Treatment

By Theresa Burns

Featured Art by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Why had I not noticed them
before? The women in treatment
on every block, it seems, leaving
the library, walking their dogs.
Once they hid themselves
beneath wigs, fashionable hats
in the city, or entered softly
in Birkenstocks and baseball caps,
stayed out of the way. Now they
show up, unannounced.

In offices, in waiting rooms,
in aisle seats with legs outstretched,
the women in treatment
flip the pages, reach the end,
bald, emboldened. One
outside a florist today arranges
lantana in time for evening
rush. A bright silk scarf
around her pale round head
calls attention to her Supermoon.
And one woman my own age,
in my own town, takes up a table
right in front. She nurses a chai latte
in a purple jacket, her hair
making its gentle comeback.

What she pens in a small
leather notebook: a grocery list?
Ode to her half-finished
French toast? The kind of poem
living people write.


Theresa Burns’s poetry, reviews, and nonfiction have appeared in The New York Times, Prairie Schooner, New Ohio Review, JAMA, The Cortland Review, The Night Heron Barks, SWWIM, and elsewhere. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and author of the chapbook Two Train Town. In 2020, she won runner up in The Poets Prize from The Journal of New Jersey Poets. The founder and curator of Watershed Literary Events, she teaches writing in and around New York.

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