By Merle Molofsky

You unpack your briefcase and take out the world,
lay it on the coffee table and set it spinning.
This is the Land of Chaos, you say,
and this the Land of Light.
The Isle of Dreams is here,
in the Sea of Desire.

Which of the four elements matters most,
you ask. Earth, I say. Wrong, you say.
The only element that counts is fire.

Once, you say, you taught a wolf to count.
But that was far away and long ago.
You learn the names of my grandmothers,
the syllables of my gods. No
more than this, and already
I seem to know you.

On the coffee table clouds clash
and lightning breaks into the treetops.
We count again the elements: snow and mist,
a girdle of wind to tear up the foundations.

What do you say, love, is it a deal?
You can’t miss out on it, it’s a steal.

You nod and grin and sweep the planet
back into its corner, snap shut the lid.
No sale, no handshake, just scuffmarks
on the table, and your card – if you
change your mind, kid.

I could have been the snake oil queen,
with the world at my feet and the devil in my bed,
but my tongue locked on the hard edges of words
that can’t be said.

Merle Molofsky, psychoanalyst and poet, serves on the boards of IFPE and NAAP and the editorial board of The Psychoanalytic Review. Articles in The Psychoanalytic Review,
Journal of Religion of Health.

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