At the Hospital
I lock myself inside the space of poem
just as I did the bathroom when I was three.
Mother and father yell
and beg and pound for me to come out,
but I am steadfast. I watch the pee
run over my thighs
and into the space behind my knees
and down the backs of my legs
until the tops of my socks are sopping wet
and my feet are sloshy in my shoes.
My brother and sister demand
news of our mother's condition
as my pen scribbles sounds of ink
along the edges of my paper
until words come together on the page.
I look from my shoes to the quivering door
as firemen meander through the mind of dream
and doctors continue on -
even after the lock is broken.
-Esther Altshul Helfgott
copyright1993, 2005Esther Altshul Helfgott
The poem first appeared in the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Review (Vancouver Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Society), vol 4, no 1, winter 1993
"I underwent a four-and-a-half year five-day-a-week analysis with a traditional male Freudian psychoanalyst (or he tried to behave that way). The maternal aspects of the analysis were wonderfully gentle, but the paternal/fraternal aspects were horrendous. He came to hold an incredible amount of power over me and would not help me leave, terminate, be done with the process that was, from the beginning, highly sexualized and erotic... He refused to confront the "here and now" between us, always taking me back to my past; in so doing, he helped repeat/reenact a condition that brought me to analysis in the first place... In the end, I thought he would keep me there forever ... and so I left. Eventually I came back to the study of psychoanalysis which is, with all its faults, one of my intellectual homes; another is poetry."
Now the Day is Over