Literature Poetry Triny Finlay

Advice to the Mentally Ill from the Queen Bee

Triny Finlay

You should relax.
Come back to my hive.
I’ll make us some toast.

Ignore the droning around you—
those losers don’t know what they’re missing.

Don’t worry,
I’ve been there too.
I was seventeen—young and gorgeous—but no one
believed I could be Queen.
It sent me to a dark place.

Lie back on this divan
and get under the duvet.
Now imagine you’re on a beach: all white sand,
waves rolling in, the sun freckling your face.
Believe me, you deserve an escape.

Take off your socks.
You know what I like? A hot
drink, a gossip rag, and a foot rub.

Give me your hand.
I know what you like: scritches
across your wrists, so fierce it stings.

Now rub my feet.
Use the lavender lotion.
See how nice it can be
to help somebody else feel good?

Did your mother sing you to sleep?
I bet she had a beautiful voice.
Did she slap you every time you misbehaved?

Are you warm enough yet? Too warm?
It can get a bit close in here.
No, leave the windows shut—
the neighbours always complain about the noise.

Bring me my Sleepy Time tea.
While you’re in there, pick a word from my Vision Board
(maybe Career, or Travel, or Family)
or one of the quotations from Madame Bovary.

Tell me everything.

Come closer. Open your sad little mouth.
Lick the sweet, sticky honeycomb in my lap.
Dare to dream.

I’m here to soothe you.

I’ll nurse you all night if I have to.

Let’s binge-watch something.
Damages. Riverdale.
Top of the Lake.
I’m right here—
there’s nothing to be afraid of.

I’ll tell you my secret:
leave at least one plot
hanging, and you’ll always have a reason
to wake up in the morning.


Triny Finlay is a queer writer whose most recent poetry collection, You don’t want what I’ve got (Junction Books), is a long poem about her experiences living with debilitating mental illnesses, their treatments, and stigma. She is also the author of Splitting Off (Nightwood), Histories Haunt Us (Nightwood), and the chapbook Phobic (Gaspereau). Her writing has appeared in anthologies and journals such as Breathing Fire 2, Arc Poetry Magazine, Contemporary Verse 2, The Fiddlehead, Grain, and The Malahat Review. She lives in Fredericton, where she teaches English and Creative Writing at UNB. You can find her at and @TrinyFinlay.