(“Fort !" and "Da !" are exclamations that Sigmund Freud heard his grandson Ernst utter while playing. This pair of words—meaning "Gone!" and "There!"—has become shorthand for repetition in early childhood, and for the primary processes that such behaviour mobilises.)
when the black hand of groping night 
first closed my eyes and pushed me into sleep
i thought the things i’d seen then ceased to be
gone because only when i willed it
could there be reality
fort da fort da
where’s he gone
ah there he is
but later i discovered that the darkness i encountered 
when my eyes excluded brightling day
was only there behind my shuttered eyes 
and all the things i thought imagination
continued being in their separate lives 
fort da fort da
where’s he gone
ah there he is
at first it was a thrill to know objects were real
and came and went by purpose of their own 
and so my being was confirmed by seeing them see me
but soon i thought that if they came by choice
by choice they went away and left me fearful 
not only from the loss and loneliness
but at the thought of what those things might do
if they decided from their own consideration
to close their eyes and put an end to me
as once it seemed i cast them from imagination 
fort da fort da
where’s he gone
ah there he is
and so i drew away to hide myself
behind a wall of ideal stone and mortar
ditches deep and cut like chevrons in the ground
behind which i could be securely hid
and if they sought for me would not be found 
but one night when the banners were hung out
and sentries stood like teeth atop the solid walls
a zephyr came and shaped into a form
that i had never dreamed but now desired
and it caressed me like a silken glove
fort da fort da
where’s he gone
ah there he is
it was  a reminiscence of the past 
before i knew the other that was there
and thought it was my will that caused all that
until experience revealed that satisfaction and dismay 
are rabbits pulled from inside the same hat
so every night i welcomed the attendance 
that came when sleep was just a sigh away
and waking time imaginings were fading 
to a mist through which i felt the rousing hand
that took me in its soft embracing
fort da fort da
where’s he gone
ah there he is
and thinking it was she some secret she
i rode the swelling waves of longing
thrust deep into the tightening grip of love
that granted full connection and belonging
until the tide went out and i was done
left broken like a ragged sailor 
after battering by winter’s rage
i crawled not seeking safety in a sheltered cove
but once again to find the she
that gave the breath of life and then exhausted me
and every night she came again 
in form that mimicked light personified 
and seemed to fill the room with glowing stars
till she was gone and i was left  
in darkness drained to lifelessness
fort da fort da
where’s he gone
ah there he is
Words by Ron Graves
Images: Marc A. Price
Model: Diana Cher

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