A Conversation That We Never Had

Painting by Edward Hopper - "Hotel by a Railroad", 1952

Painting by Edward Hopper - "Hotel by a Railroad", 1952


“What do you fear?” asks the psychologist.

“What keeps you awake at night?

The dark? Monsters under you bed?”

I want to reply:

“It is all I am.”

The dirt under my nails and dry skin and jeans
That press too tight when you sit down
Chafing thighs and dark nights
The skies that burn midnight blue at sunset
They fill me with a need to reach them
Part the clouds a little wider and slip into
The molten sunlight dripping at the horizon
A haloed gateway to somewhere else
Somewhere other than my body, this vessel
Where all I am not is everywhere:
The emptiness between by fingers
Behind my ears
Between them

I don’t believe in monsters under my bed
But at night I feel something in the room

Like humidity, but colder, but suffocating
Cling film air, airtight skin
And screams that disappear on your tongue

It comes from within, Doc
The monster digs a hole in my chest and promises
He has seeds to plant and make me grow

Illustration by Elliana Esquivel

Illustration by Elliana Esquivel

But the monster is made of lies
And the hole is filled with my own nothingness
Collecting rainwater and litter and cultivating self-doubt
Ever played Stop The Difference
At the back of a newspaper?

That feeling of something askew
That you can’t quite pinpoint,
I know that same feeling when I look in the mirror
Tricks of the light or tricks of the mind

When I see my own eyes but don’t know if they’re mine?
When you miss a step and you heart jumps to your throat?
That when somebody says hello



Ever snap out of a dream with the feeling you’re falling?

That on the bus to school in the morning
Please mind the gap between the train and my urges.

Doc, I know that may sound scary to you
But imagine hearing that in your voice
Without making a conscious choice

Stream of consciousness like steam in the air
Unfurling, doubling back,
Slipping through your fingers
You grapple for the words but they fall away

I am scared of unearthly, intangible concepts and
I am full to the brim with nothing at all

Fill-in-the-blank activities in class
Just serve to remind me how little I am
My purpose doesn’t extend beyond
Getting an A on an exam and this is way

I cannot sleep in fear of missing something real.

This is the answer I want to give
Follow up with,

“I’m abstract and I know it doesn’t make sense”

But instead I tell them,

“I have anxiety”

Because in the end, it means the same.


Written by Amelia A J Foy