Poetry Sunday: “Are You in the Room with Me Now?” by Maw Shein Win

Are you in the Room with Me Now?

My therapist asked why I never cry.
I ask myself the same, closing my eyes.
A small sty in my vision.

As hard as I tried not to cry,
I was shy as a child. As I crossed the street
with mother, I hid behind her lab coat.

My throat taut and tight.
I thought I might cry.
The other night I lost my sight.

I could hear a couple on the crosswalk.
A man doing a handstand.
Two kids making plans.

Perhaps a chance to dance
in another place. I could cross the state
line. Cry at the sight of a shimmering lake.

My therapist asked:
What are you thinking?
How does that make you feel?
Where did that come from
and are you in the room with me now?

In Rio, there is a majestic cross on a cliff.
People live in pink paper shacks below.
I danced and I drank there.
I thought I might die there.
I crossed myself although I didn’t believe.

You sweat silver tears.
You see through pink paper walls.
You think your body might be crying now.


From Invisible Gifts (Manic D Press 2018) and published with permission of the press. First published in Fanzine.



Maw Shein Win is a poet, editor, and educator who lives and works in the Bay Area. Her writing has appeared in many journals and several anthologies, including Cimarron Review, Fanzine, The Fabulist, and others. She was an Artist in Residence at Headlands Center for the Arts and is a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. She often collaborates with visual artists, musicians, and other writers. Along with composer and musician Amanda Chaudhary, she is part of the musical duo Pitta of the Mind that combines poetry with abstract electronic music. Her most recent poetry chapbook is Score and Bone, published by Nomadic Press; a full-length collection, Invisible Gifts, Poems, will be published by Manic D Press in April 2018, and can be pre-ordered here at IndieBound.org. Score and Bone can be ordered here, and you can read a review here. Win is the first poet laureate of El Cerrito, California.


Poet’s Note

The impetus for this poem arose from my contemplation of questions asked during therapy sessions. I’ve written a series of poems and prose pieces based on the process of therapy. I was particularly struck by the poetic quality and sounds of the question, “Are you in the room with me now?”

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