Friday, November 26, 2010

Family Secrets #2

How do I begin to tell you my fears in detail, doctor?

Just relax, pal, and pretend I’m drinking at the same bar.

Can I buy you a drink?

Sure. I forgot my money belt. The streets are tough
at night here, I hurry to and I hurry from.

Why did you decide to meet here?

It’s my favorite bar. The girls wear hip-high hose
like they do in the Congress Hotel–

Over there they would ask for poems and buy me drinks.

Now there’s a good place to start.

I swear, I loved each one. You could see it in the poems.
I guess that's why they kept asking.

Go on.

I would ask their names, then forget them after I slept.
I went home after closing time, smoked some hookah–
that was Baudelaire’s word for it–and slept like a baby
dreaming I was being passed from one to the other’s
naked arms. It was a big bed, the girls so very shapely.
They passed me around like a fresh stick of Mary Jane.

I didn’t know you took drugs.

I don’t, I dream I do. Isn’t this all about my dreams?

It can be. What do you base that conjecture on?

A dog-eared copy of The Interpretation of Dreams.

Don’t read Freud, he’s not good for you.

My daddy did, and he mined coal for a living.

What could you possibly fear if your father feared
nothing? Didn’t you say he was uneducated,
all but illiterate? Where did he find the Freud?

He was walking home one night after work. Said,
I looked down and there was this book in the way
I was taking, I almost stepped on it. Picked it up,
took it home and read myself to sleep, slowly.
A few pages only. But Jesus, the dreams I had!

Did your daddy go on to read other books Freud wrote?

He never read books he didn’t find somewhere.

How did he learn to read someone like Freud?

How do I know? He never talked about the school
he had to quit when he was twelve to work cotton.
Stooping all day, carrying a long sack up one row
and down the next and up another until it weighed
a hundred pounds, took it off and put on another.
In school the teacher read them books. He listened.

Did he say which ones?

He didn’t remember titles, he said. One was about a guy
named David Copperfield, another Long John Silver
and a kid named Jim. There’s one was left unfinished,
it was about war and peace and teacher jumped around,
the good parts were what he read. Andre wounded,
lying on his back on a bridge realizing how precious
it was to be alive, Natasha happy despite whatever
happened to make her weep, Pierre standing on a hill,
watching the battle raging below, then captured
learning from an old dying peasant what courage was.

Those are all familiar. But Freud was something else.
What of his have you read that we could talk about?

I am not my father’s son. I preferred to work on cars.
I would rather read poems out loud to beautiful girls.

Amazing. I seem to recall it was just the opposite
when we started therapy. Haven’t we made progress?

How would I know, doc? I never said I didn’t read.
And we just started talking about the girls today.

(25 October–25 November 2010)

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