Fathom Mag

Spinus tristis (from the Latin, meaning ‘sad’)

Published on:
March 13, 2024
Read time:
1 min.
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Just today, my therapist at the V.A. asked me,
What is it that you hope to see in a therapist?
I thought of vision, of the sight of her, which

was already before me, but then the true in-
sight of what it is I hope for. I said one word:
gentleness, and then explained that previous

counselors for some reason thought, because
I’m a vet, that they should be hard with me,
harsh. I have no interest in that, I said. I got

enough of that in the military.  Now, I said,
I want the opposite. Walking the hallways,
I felt I was in a world of vet, all white walls.

I craved the stained-glass of church, and all
of its smells: the incense, frankincense and
myrrh, smoky, sweet, spicy, aromatic, not

the first-floor V.A. smells of sickness.  I wish
, I said, that the V.A. could feel more holy,
more faith-filled, more . . . gentle.
 Perhaps it’s

too much to ask. I looked out the window,
tried to catch sight of an American gold-
finch, fleeting by, a flash, its bright orange

beak, brown back, attempted to listen for
twitters, warbles, music, but the windows
were too thick. She thought I was having

a flashback, asked. No, I said, no, I just
thought I saw something beautiful.
we sat there in silence, in gentle silence.

Ron Riekki
Ron Riekki has been awarded a 2014 Michigan Notable Book, 2015 The Best Small Fictions, 2016 Shenandoah Fiction Prize, 2016 IPPY Award, 2019 Red Rock Film Fest Award, 2019 Best of the Net finalist, 2020 Dracula Film Festival Vladutz Trophy, 2019 Très Court International Film Festival Audience Award and Grand Prix, 2020 Rhysling Anthology inclusion, and 2022 Pushcart Prize; right now, Riekki's listening to Cliff Martinez's "Never Read Him" from The Knick soundtrack.

Cover image by Charles Deluvio.

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