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Many lifetimes ago, too many to count
or remember
or possibly it was
in my 20’s

I knew a blonde fortune-teller
with a round face, eyes as wide
as an antelope’s and the color
of your favorite pair of ancient faded bluejeans.
Her limbs no different than
a very long-legged
I tripped happily into
her sturdy fine-spun web
it was laid out like the most translucent shroud
and contained within it
the history entire
of man
and his future.

I sat across from her
a small oak table
between us.
I felt the distance
and I wanted to close the gap
“Untangle me,” I thought, “and take this body,
or what you would call
this incarnation. Fill yourself
until I am empty.”
Such was my desire for her
or for her seeing eyes;
they were one
and the same
to me.

Her long light hair,
like a rope one wants to climb in childhood
lay across her light(ed) face
as she laid out the cards
into a perfect square
and the oak table
became an altar
touched by sunlight
and our staring faithful gaze.
The altar came alive
as all true altars should
while The Fool
spoke to The Hanged Man
and the Page of Cups
informed the fate of The Hermit
and all the cards
danced, like life, really,
to Death on his high stepping horse.


The soothsayer had a teacher
he was an Egyptian
and he was at least
one thousand years old.
He instructed her on reading the lives
the histories the loves the births
and deaths of deathless men
though really she needed no instruction.
She slept in a room the size
of a small house
with angled ceilings and skylights
that offered her the moon.
A black twisting wrought-iron staircase
brought her down
to her kitchen
and to us.

The cards told her
to tell me
that it was not for me
to concern myself
with money or love or work
or any venture that might roughen my still soft hands
and gentle mind, so easily wounded
like the skull of a very small animal.
I was fated, she said,
her blue eyes aglow with the sacred chorus
to walk with Death, and take his hand
and then his arm
and then his body
as only the most enrapt lover might
after many months of courting.
After the union between my heart
and his,
exactly, I suppose,
like Persephone,
I must pass between his home,
comfortable and spacious, with its endless rooms,
and the streets of the living
and tell the living what I know
of Death.
I must, she said,
disclose my lover’s secrets
like a spy.


But that was such a long time ago
long enough for me to know
that we are all
each one of us
the consort of Death
and the secrets he has whispered to us
during sleepless nights
of love
or keening terror
are kept close
no matter the effort in the telling.

In the soothsayer I lost my faith
as one misplaces an ancient coin
from a false kingdom.
But I think
she saw
this coming.