The Chameleon

Psychiatric Times, Psychiatric Times Vol 26 No 12, Volume 26, Issue 12

When I was young, I believed

When I was young, I believed

the id, ego, and superego

were actual places in the brain

where every trouble lingered

like a reptile on a warm rock.

I even believed if I could master

the logic of psychoanalytic theory

I’d understand all my patients

and begin to understand myself.

But I confess, all the convolutions

never made more sense

than Freud’s casual comment,

“Work and love, love and work,

that’s all there is.”

So I learned to love the work

of listening to patients

tell their stories,

and I became invisible,

like a chameleon on a palm frond

using all my strength

and what little weight I have

to shake the stalk hard enough

to let in one more silver shaft of light.