AveryM. Guess

The Patient’s Aversion to Bananas Begins
by Avery M. Guess

The light inside the office feels trapped. Above us,
plastic panels clutching fluorescent tubes pulse.
The office never changes: a large print with a path

to draw the eyes past the forest in the foreground.
Potted plant. Tissue box. Chair. Couch.

The therapist asks if I am ready.

The average height of a father is seventy inches.

Last week, I sat in the same awkward triangle with my mother.

The average height of a toddler is thirty-six inches.

I stare at a spot on the ceiling, an old water stain
or trick of light, I’m not sure. Today, I swear I see
a face, a Rorschach portrait waiting to be unlocked.

The average length of a small banana is six inches.

This is my time of rebellion. My time of no. Nineteen,
dropped out of college, my parents desperate to know why.

Things a toddler might want to lick: her mother’s breasts,

a popsicle, an electrical outlet, dirt, a board book,

a set of keys, an ash tray, the dog’s nose.

I fixate on the forest in the print, imagine standing up,
crossing the room, climbing into the scene,
and leaving my father and therapist behind.

Things a teenager might expect a father to say

in response to allegations of abuse: “How dare you!”

“I love my daughter. I could never hurt her.”

What my father says: “When she was two or three,
she saw me naked on the bed. She asked what my penis was.
I said it was a banana. Then I asked her if she wanted to lick it.”


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 19, Issue 3.

AveryM. Guess Avery Moselle Guess received a 2015 NEA Fellowship for Poetry. She’s a PhD student at USD and assistant editor for poetry at South Dakota Review. Recent publications include poems in Thrush, Rogue Agent, Glass, Rust + Moth, and Deaf Poets Society and creative non-fiction in Entropy and The Manifest-Station. Her chapbook, The Patient Admits, was released in September 2017 from dancing girl press, and her first full-length collection of poetry, The Truth Is, will be published in April 2019 by Black Lawrence Press.

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