The Talking Cure

A new poem by Sally Festing.

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Cool as an eel
he slipped between syllables,

dissected text.
Theories sprouted like flowering trees.

Since dawn he’d battled with Papa.
He was his own first patient.

Rivals he conquered
one by one.

The ritual was fixed.

Berggasse 19 
to and fro on the steps ding-dong.

Talk. Talk – unmentionable things –
listening, he wrote it down.

They must understand the nakedness
of dreams.

Taming the animal passions wasn’t easy.
It wasn’t sin,

it was unmapped landscape

Sally Festing’s fifth collection, My Darling Derry, is published by Fair Acre Press. Her non-fiction books include Barbara Hepworth: A Life of Forms (Penguin).

This article appears in the 12 April 2019 issue of the New Statesman, System failure