Friday, September 8, 2017

Dialing a Freudian Phone

American mothers six decades ago who dressed up
to go out on the town coalesced in my dream to become
an amalgam of Claudette Colbert and a Mildred-Pierce-era-
Joan Crawford before she’d been offered the ghoulish

reprises of sleazy send-ups that would plague her and us
on the screen to the end of her days. But to gaze first at
Claudette and end with the notion of Joan might be seen
to have answered alone and together a Freudian phone

as the dreaming me might have imagined to dial it to try
to find out what had caused this abrupt interference
in my soporific estate. Claudette Colbert was the sole movie
great that my father had ever addressed in a letter;

my mother resembled the younger Joan Crawford: it might
have been said that their cheekbones were cousins. But this
wasn’t alarming and doesn’t disarm me with any portentous
intent. One begins to believe that the real secret Freud kept

so far up his sleeve that he couldn’t retrieve it was this:
yes, dreams may be conjured from bits of a life and may boil
and hiss to a thin simulacrum of crisis but tend to steam
off like an infant’s warm breath, do not scare us with death,

rarely cause that much strife, do not threaten the phallus
(which rhymes, come to think, with my mother’s name Alice)
nor wake up one’s demons and cause them to snarl
(which rhymes, come to think, with my father’s name Carl).


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