Northwords Now Issue 38

The FREE literary magazine of the North

Freud’s Couch in February

by Marion McCready


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.


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?


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.


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.