I’ve started looking through some old poems & poetic prose-bits stashed on my computer; things that have somehow survived being transferred from one computer to the next during my roaring twenties. Folders have just gotten buried in deeper folders; it’s like going into some sort of hypnotic state –– like diving into the wreck –– to look back at these now.
This is not an exercise for the faint of heart. This is like the snake going into the shed to look at sloughed-off skins; to hold them up and think, “Did this ever fit me?”
Thus, maybe a short prose-poem on psychoanalysis, written when I was in my earlyish to mid-twenties, is appropriate enough to begin this month’s endeavor.
WHY THE PSYCHOANALYST CRIED
The patient should be arranged upon a chaise-lounge, one hand reclined above the head, the other resting near the heart. The analyst sits in the dark, making marks and cordiform marginalia in the notebook.
What of your dreams, then?
I have none to tell.
What of your mother? Do you hate her? It is not good. Do you love her a little too much maybe? (That is usually the way…)
I make no such polemical distinctions.
The analyst stands, steals out from the shadows, looms above the patient and –– presses a besweated palm, all tattooed with the transcription (the amorous prescription) upon the patient’s hand, recoiled on the heart-muscle.
Hit me once, instructs the analyst, then kiss me, and we should be finished. Complete the dance of transference/countertransference –– [so that] This will all be a happy nightmare in the morning.
The patient rises from the exam table and strolls into the dark corner, where there is a plant.
I lied before. Before, when I said I do not have dreams; I was lying, then. The night is mine: salubrious intoxicants, my dreams. I do not want to tell you more, knowing you will make the hungry hallucinations I sire into something sordid. Without these delusions, how/why should I go on? And we all must go on. (And I as part of we must –– a posteriori.) Thank you, doctor. I shan’t be needing your counsel any longer.
The patient retrieves a coat and scarf from the potted hat-stand and chances to look a moment at his/her reflection in the glass. The analyst stands in the high contrast background, looking too at the patient in the mirror looking at the analyst in the mirror, looking…
Wait! comes the desperate consultation of the analyst, stumbling to place an enfevered hand upon the fugitive. The analyst embraces the patient and receives a slap as payment for services rendered. Alone, with only some feckless thoughts as these, the analyst swoons into the chaise.
In the nighttime, there is a soft whimpering –– like a creature left alone in the dark place –– like a child that has not enough food to eat or a phantom that is not meant for this world…
The mirror becomes nothing without something to reflect.
Love becomes neurosis when left unrequited.
So too will a cigar, left burning, not quit, –– never quiet itself of ash and smoke.
POSTMORTEM: It’s so funny & charming to look at all those flowery little moments I used to include in my writing –– like when the patient wisps “salubrious intoxicants, my dreams.” I used to quite over-accessorize my writing, no? It’s only relatively recently that I’ve (somewhat) been able to hold it up for keener scrutiny before it walks out the door & to suggest the work take off two or three baubles. To pare it back some. Less is more, prose poem. To counsel it against gross embarrassment. “You can’t go out looking like that, little prose poem.” But it will learn. The world will be cruel to it otherwise if it does not.
(And I still rather like the ending of this, for some reason.)