Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature: over 400,000 monthly users

Sandra McPherson: Going to See Dr. Jones Out of Loneliness, 1966

The psychiatrist works below the cliff.

And it is sad to see the patients climbing,

the leaves falling, the fogs leaning,

all against that rakish face, that lush leap.


From the top you see the sunny cat on a roof,

you feel blinding as a mountain goat.

You have to get ready

for a more complicated life.

You have to tell him the simple things

don’t know how to put their round heads together.


You come from a country with high sides.

Building a stairway is like laying a fire.

People have thick legs for all the verticals.

There is no ambition, just fitness

and the cantering of bells.


You don’t know why you go up and down.

He says just talk, but you can’t describe it.

You come from a land of music.

You could never refuse a scale. You begin,

“This week I suffered these words and tune.

Maybe just listen to my voice.”

Copyright 2019 Sandra McPherson. An earlier version of this poem was published in The New York Times 1972 March 25. 

The author, looking at a map of Seattle, says, “See, center right, where it says University Village?  And just below that NE 45th St?  That’s where Dr. Jones was.  There’s quite a difference in elevation between the U District, school & housing, & the U Village below, where Dr. Jones’s office was.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Enter your email address to follow Vox Populi and receive new posts by email.

Join 10,678 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 4,491,260 hits


%d bloggers like this: