Woman Leaving the Psychoanalyst

Today while doing some research on Remedios Varo, I came across this painting of hers that I’d never seen before. “Woman Leaving the Psychoanalyst” is bitterly funny to me when I think about my experiences with male psychotherapists. I can’t stop thinking about exiting a session and peeling off the analysis part as I return to the world. I just jotted down a quick, rough poem about it:

Woman Leaving the Psychoanalyst, 1960. Oil on canvas.
Woman Leaving the Psychoanalyst, 1960. Oil on canvas.

By age 20 I thought I’d emptied myself

completely and fully

purged of cobwebs that gather in the places where bones meet

spots damp with cumulus clouds laid out to dry in the sun

ribs cracked open

flesh peeled back, pinned

exposed, splayed, light.

No more to show, I am flat now

every acre explored

every inch claimed,

staked, identified,


I have recorded the depths of all my rivers

heights of my mountains

classified what is bountiful,

what is endangered,

what is irretrievably lost.

We have quantified my resources

allocated to places that are underdeveloped

and here you are

the man who will draw me my maps

while himself remaining unexplored territory.

What you don’t know

is that I have learned since then

how to once more let myself grow wild

set fires screaming through the suburbs you so carefully pieced out

stop hacking at blackberry brambles, sweet and thick and bloody

flood the rivers until they send out water to all the places that have been parched

by diagnostics, by pathology, by the defining of my madness.

I am summoning earthquakes from my core

to topple the metropolis that was never mine,

I am letting you fall

like overripe fruit.


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