Perihelion: An Online Journal of Poetry and Mayhem
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Philip Salom

The Semiologist Meets a Psychic for a Reading

He felt a different kind of nervousness
and that interested him: how various his own
state of being (of not being sure) really was,
how we forget at conception we are inset with switches
rippling on and off, from sense and memory
LEDs we might imagine, as now he sees
the psychic, her face, her cardigan, her suburb
(lower middle class, the house for sale, is this
psychic country? Different educations?),
the shadows in her corridor, two armchairs,
books of New-Age self-help (not his usual reading)
lined up on the floor (and why the floor?).
Seen things and unseen things setting off
his switches. He felt like a finely tuned digital
harmonium. The glass of water she poured
would shake in his hand he was sure
from the notes playing noiselessly inside him.
It was the unseen he had come for, signs
no semiologist (except he was a semiologist)
gave the time of day (well, night-signs, then).

She said he was a man in hiding, his creative
being lost way back there in childhood, yes, let's see
there as his parents stopped their loving him.
? This was news to him. They had rejected him?
They had. Or, he had felt it, he had learnt it, had 
lost himself and stopped being, at that moment.
His work was language, signs, the metaphoric
layering, the word was his world. No, she said.
That's not your being at all. Nothing like it.
He muttered something tight about ontology.
Artists get it wrong, dear, she knew being
was writing in again the beauty of his child
there before his parents stopped their loving.
He bristled. No dear, she said, you're wrong
about all that. I used to be an artist, I painted
faces on dolls. I know about the early states, 
I am intuitive. You might become intuitive
if you accept what I have seen. You might begin
to see the art you're missing. But we need to
work on you before we make more promises.

He couldn't read her use of plurals. Guides
dear, reading his mind for once (not his usual
reading). I don't work alone. He wondered if
she split her big fee fairly, he had forgotten
'the guides', as he had forgotten himself, too,
nervous and confounded by her stick figure
drawing of his 'being' (she had painted faces?).
It was under-nourished, it was androgenous.
She moved her hands like clouds above him
as he lay on his back. She said his energy
had fallen on its side (she lifted it back up).
She looked like the mother of a poet he knew
but was more dogmatic. With his uncertainty
as common faith it was hard to take her (was it
blind?) conviction. She said he had entities
all over him, clinging to him. (Ah, he saw them as
stick figures, sad and grey, clutching his skin
like children.) He sent them off to a dining room
in the sky, to eat and play. Only then he realised
that she had not once used the big-small word
of God. He made another appointment, paid,
then crunched down her path hoping it was
entities underfoot. He tried to think of words
but couldn't get the image of her dollish faces
away from him. They clung to him like children.
She said he had nothing at all to worry about,
nothing. But he worried about that.