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Page 231

You may never have heard a monologue quite as extended
as what I've just described – unless you, too, had a mother
who was disappointed with something she mistook for
her life, her husband, her children...

Or unless you've become more aware than you like to be
of your own internal monologue. Typically a cheerful man
would have to talk for hours to slip into such sloughs
of despair and stick there. How long to talk oneself
to death? How many years of psychoanalysis, decorating
occasional "I see"s and "yes"s with the regurgitated shreds
of your childhood?

But we've all experienced talking that leaves us more exhausted,
more sour, less ourselves than when we began – especially
when we simply keep talking, as if into an impenetrable
blankness that swallows our words as we speak them or
just before. Ah, but my exemplar was talking to himself –
is that what makes it deadly? I hope not,

since I am writing in my bedroom,
no other body in the house except a few autumn crickets
chirping themselves dry in the basement (but still too spry
for me to catch in a cup and toss outside) and several spiders
and enough tiny prey to keep their webs visible (note to self,
metaphor for blank page?). No, talking to someone
doesn't prevent the spiraling descent to apathy. You speak,
the therapist nods encouragingly, you tell him more,
he lets you run on, nods, grants you an occasional "umhmmm"
or "hah!" (eyebrow twitch) or "yes, OK, and?..." –
working on the idea that if he can just keep you talking,
all will be well, and when you begin to get irritated,
he thinks, "Good, he's working through something,"
and when you yell at him, he thinks you are freeing yourself
of your hate for your father (as if rage ever rid one
of rage), and when you are terrified, then sobbing,
why, yes, go on, we're getting somewhere, and when
you reach apathy and go silent, despite all prodding,
he is pleased that you are calm now, malleable,
suggestible. And so stable – solid as a cinder.

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