‘What can Come’

By Alice Leventhal

“I live in the present.
But I exist in dread.”
Abigail Thomas wrote,
in her memoir,
What Comes Next.

She was writing about
existing with her daughter’s
breast cancer.

I understood exactly what
she meant the instant
I read her words.

She expressed what
I had been experiencing
this morning,
from the moment I awoke—
a deep sense of dread, existing
with our present reality.

We’re all in survival mode
since the pandemic hit
with its unrelenting power.

We’re all afraid of
“What can come?”
The words Abigail’s grandson Sam
asked, as a child, when he wondered
why his mother warned him
not to go into the woods after dark.

Nowadays, we’re all dwelling
in the dark
not knowing “What can come.”

When we go out, if we keep our
distance, mask our faces, wash
hands, and disinfect, we still
dread “What can come.” So
best to stay safe, stay home.

Going out, we feel like a child
alone
in the woods after dark.

So I stay home and do
what I wish after the chores
are finished, find joy in
simple pleasures.

I write, read, talk with family
and friends, watch movies with
my husband, sip coffee in the morning,
and wine in the evening,
cozy by the fire, and share
three good meals each day.

I wish to absorb
the words Eckhart Tolle,
spoke, this morning,
quoting Shakespeare:

“Nothing is ever good or
bad but thinking makes it so.”

I am an identical twin, the mother of identical twin daughters, and have four precious grandchildren. I practiced as a therapist for over fifty years. As a psychologist, I viewed every client as a unique universe worthy of connection and understanding. Each relationship I shared was like a special friendship. We were confidantes, and sharing was mutual. I believe every conversation has the potential to be therapeutic. 

 I am writing a memoir about my life and work as a therapist, chronicling some of the compelling and challenging problems clients brought into therapy for us to solve together. I include poems in many of the vignettes.

I started writing poetry at seventy-four when I joined a poetry group in Nantucket, Moors Poetry Collective, in 2014. I never thought I would fall in love with reading and writing poetry. But I did. Here is the last stanza from “Born Again.”

I dreamed, thought, wrote, and pondered poetry day and night.

I turned into a zealot, a poetry proselytizer,

a worshiper in the house of words–

a born-again poet.

The idea for “What can Come” came to me early in the pandemic when we were in lockdown and could only go out for essentials. While I was reading Abigail Thomas’s book, What Comes Next, the phrase ‘what can come’ resonated with me. Then when I heard Eckhart Tolle speak Shakespeare’s words I quote in the poem, the poem flowed, and the words poured forth.

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