Northwords Now Issue 38

The FREE literary magazine of the North

Freud’s Couch in February

by Marion McCready

1

A couch is for resting on or sleeping.
Whoever lay here did not sleep
but ran with the peacocks and the deer
in a red land. The red land is a Persian rug
which is also a river of blood.
There is no crossing the river
but a mercy drowning
without wails or waving of arms.

So many arms have rested on this couch;
one arm reaches out to me now
like the underside of a tree - bare,
dark, every little branch highlighted
by a spray of snow. It is the network
of arteries and capillaries in a frog’s webbed foot.

The branches are inside of me also -
I grow smaller under them, under this tree,
this arm, this bed.

2

Madame Benvenisti -
forever known for buying Freud a couch.
If she was going to have her head examined
it damn well was going to be comfortable!

On display like a crucifix
transfiguring visitors into ecstasies.
Madame Benvenisti -
your couch is the keeper of all secrets.

Its horsehair stuffing
gallops under every analysand.
The couch looks harmless enough -
resewn, preserved, mummified.

Did Freud lie on the couch?
Did he dream of it?
Does the couch dream of all the bodies
caught in the womb of the horse within?

3

So much red on Freud's couch -
a red rug draped over it, the frayed red velvet cushions.
I want to carry Freud's couch around in my pocket

like a hot red stone, or wear it on leather cordage
around my neck.

Freud's couch is a galaxy,
many swirling planets are enclosed within it -
so many minds breaking apart, orbiting each other.

Shooting stars leap out of the rug, comets hang in the air
with constellations - the animals of the mind.

My mind inhabits the bear, the crab and the scorpion.
Freud's couch has lain empty for so long, the cushions
are begging for a head to rest on them.

4

Freud's couch is his mother: a vessel of blood and water.
Freud’s couch is an invitation, a private letter,

it is his mother - the caul, the birth membrane.
Freud's couch is also a sort of smile

drawing you into its many folds.
Freud's couch is the Venus of Hohle Fels -

an ivory woman of fertility.
Even here, in the middle of February

when the snow falls like the sound of lullabies,
Freud's couch is as warm as a horse's heart muscle

or a red woman's body breaking
under the weight of so many.