Saturday Poem

Dreamless Night

I hear the mapmaker, Sigmund Freud,
calling out to me in his high-pitched voice:

“You have embarked on the wrong road,
That is not the royal route to the
unconscious I described.”

And I, unaccountably,
keep wandering down this foolish
twisting gravel trail until I can no longer
hear his voice, and find myself alone,
high above the old river, quite
near the realm of silence.

From here, I won't observe the fierce
caravan of night:
crossbearers and flagellants,
horsemen continuing their compulsive
hunt. I will miss the moment when
the lightning of God's wrath embeds itself
in an ancient oak, whose roots
absorb the blow like a woman wideopen
in childbirth, her hands gripping
each side of the bed.

Tonight I will know nothing – the inner
world hissing and struggling in the distance
like some huge, hungry torch.

It's too complicated to be a human being.
Everyone knows this somewhere
in their hearts. Taking our last breaths, six
problems will still torment us. Under
the heavy sands of our bodies, there is
a vast lake of thick oil smouldering
helplessly, that nonetheless runs our cells.

So Sigmund, if one night I fail to dream,
if I turn away from the road of self knowledge,
let that stand as an offer of truce, a small
celebration, an acknowledgement
of complexity's limit, as when the traffic
halts, permitting the blind to cross.

by Lew Lipsitz
from Seeking the Hook
Signal Books, 1997