Ms. Kahn

Ms. Kahn

I think often of my dreams and what they mean:
boring, of course, and if I wanted to be
Freudian I’d talk about trains in tunnels and
snakes and my mother.
And there is probably some horror
buried beneath the things I see
every night that I am repressing from
myself in the manner of a gaudy
old actress from Hollywood’s early
years—your Mae West, your
Bette Davis—who pulls the skin
back from her forehead with
tape to create a smooth expanse
conveying, one supposes, the
unworried purity of youth.

But what does it mean
when in the night I imagine sitting
to my right a man much older
than me, with leather lined skin
and watery eyes, who takes my
neck in one hand and my
hair in his other hand
and jerks my head down
pulls like a marionette
holds me still
so I cannot twist away?
On my left his daughter
a girl of say nine or ten
whose long dark hair brushes
against my arm
like prairie grass
watches us both.

What does she think of her father?
And what would Freud think
of me dreaming a man, not my father,
in such a fashion?
What would the girl think of Freud,
another old man too interested
in women’s bodies?
And what does she imagine of
me, my head at a heron’s
angle, the only thing I can see
a cold autumn sky where
sun lights the birch leaves
red and gold?
I imagine this is something
she has seen before.
And if she has seen it before,
so have I—
what exists inside me
must have its corollary
on the outside.

The days grow cool at dusk now.
The wild grouse become plump
and feather their nests all day.
In one month I will be twenty-six.
I watch Orion march
sharply across the bowl
and then go inside and turn
on the television where
Madeline Kahn is showing
her black and white thigh
and the honkytonk music
plays all night long.





















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